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Advertising Privacy

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Intrusive Advertising and Privacy Concerns

Instructor: Dr. John Dahlberg

Issues in Advertising

Shannon McCarthy

The concept of consumer privacy encompasses a consumers ability to limit the collection and usage of certain types of data relating to a specific transaction (Sheehan & Gleason, 2001). Today marketers and advertisers have engaged in what I feel to be somewhat questionable behavior in regards to consumers privacy. As technology becomes more sophisticated marketing becomes is a bit more complicated and more intrusive to its customers. In our highly competitive world, it is vital for a successful marketer to conduct a significant amount of research. It used to be however, that advertisers would choose their target audience, research the demographic, and create a campaign that appealed to that target audience. Marketing efforts today are going to great lengths to obtain private information about consumers. From an advertising standpoint it is important to know your customer and to target them accordingly, but how much should advertisers know? Do consumers have any right to privacy? The following will discuss intrusive tactics marketers are using to advertise and obtain consumer information as well as how advertisements themselves are invading our privacy.

Television has traditionally been the most popular medium for advertising however with new satellite television products like TiVo; advertising to consumers has been increasingly difficult. OpenTV Corp., a San Francisco-based technology company is one step ahead with trying to combat the affects of TiVo with interactive TV software. The software will be sold to cable companies such as Comcast and satellite companies such as EchoStar. This software will allow cable companies to conduct "telescoped advertising," which would allow them to target TV ads to individual households based on viewing and buying habits. Although "telescoped advertising" has created a buzz in advertising centers, privacy advocates has raised concerns. With Interactive TV applications companies could track viewing habits and possibly build elaborate consumer profiles. Companies would use their database systems, third party vendors, and public records to see who were past purchasers or owners of their product. The company would then contract with cable and satellite companies to send their advertisement only to those households. The ad would include an interactive message on the screen that would ask if you to click for more information. The advertisement would then proceed in a longer more detailed version (Wehner & Shanley, 2005). OpenTV Corp is only one company out of many that are obtaining personal information about us and using it to their advantage.

Visible World is a New York firm that is also trying to find ways to make television advertising more appealing to consumers. Not only are they looking to target households demographically and geographically they eventually have plans to target individual households. Despite concerns from privacy advocates, the company is already taking steps in that direction by forming a partnership with Experion to obtain its rich consumer database. Their software will enable advertisers to customize messages on demand by altering video, audio and graphic components in response to weather changes, shifts in inventory or even days left in a retail sale (Petrecca, 2005).

Television advertisers are not the only ones invading the privacy of consumers. A company called MobilTrak has technology that picks up more than 200,000 radio signal samples a day from 15 markets. MobilTrak's technology has the ability to pick up radio signals within a 120- foot range allowing companies to see what stations consumers are listening to. Advertisers can find out what station is number one and advertise to more people (Abbey, 2005). This is going to cause one radio station to have an overload of advertising while leaving the others with no advertising. I don't see this necessarily as a good thing. Navigauge on the other hand is a market and media intelligence service that goes above and beyond what MobilTrak can do. Navigauge installs passive listening devices in its consenting panel members cars with global positioning technology. The rest is history. The company can measures a cars speed, volume of the stereo, if the customer is listening to a CD, satellites radio listening and exposure to outdoor advertising with the help of geo-coded Clear Channel and Viacom billboards. The company publishes a monthly consumer behavior index charting everything from what product categories retain listeners through commercials to whether Grammy-nominated songs had better listener retention (Abbey, 2005). Naviguage is clearly infringing on consumer's privacy rights. Currently they require consumers permission to install passive listening devices, but whose to know they wont strike up a deal with car manufacturers and put these devices in future cars.

While privacy has been a concern to consumers in the United States for several decades, the growth of the internet has generated more privacy issues and may be the biggest issue facing the internet. There are numerous opportunities for data to be collected online such as through records of purchases, completing surveys, signing guest books, entering contests or posting messages on message board. Consumers concerned about privacy need to be more aware of reading a websites privacy policy as well as steering clear of filling out any kind of random surveys (Sheehan & Gleason, 2001).

There is however some hope on the horizon. Some companies structure their advertising efforts around privacy. Claria, is a company that is the leader in behavioral marketing. It allows advertisers to target their ads to consumers on the internet. Claria's new Behavior Link advertising network model was designed with the help of privacy, public policy and consumer protection law experts. The Chief Privacy Officer of Claria expresses how important it is to create a product that consumers will embrace. Their behavioral marketing product is designed not only to be good for advertisers and publishers but will also provide consumers with industry-leading value, privacy protections, and control over their online experience (Claria Assembles.., 2005).

Along with lack of privacy, advertising intrusiveness is a common complaint and source of annoyance for consumers. Intrusiveness is the degree to which advertisements in a media vehicle interrupt the flow of an editorial unit. Intrusiveness may be perceived when consumers see a pop-up ad when reading an email, see a commercial



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