Komodo Links: AdWords Demographic Bidding, Limiting Consumer Tracking on the Internet, Phorm Knows Everything About You

Today we have a short but very sweet edition of Komodo Links. This week’s edition is all about online consumer data, those who track and sell it, those who use it to target ads, and those who want to stop it. Read on and let us know what you think.

In January, Google invited AdWords advertisers to join a beta test of a new demographic bidding feature. Today demographic bidding is available for all AdWords advertisers. Demographic bidding is a feature that helps advertisers target ads to users of certain age groups, gender or a combination of both. Advertisers can use demographic bidding for both contextual and placement targeting and with CPC and CPM bidding. You can also use demographic bidding to refine your ad’s reach on certain sites in Google’s content network. Advertisers can also access demographic reports in the AdWords Report Center to see how well their ads are performing across different demographics.

Here is a perfect follow up to the AdWords demographic bidding announcement. The New York Times reported yesterday that New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky has drafted a bill “that would make it a crime for certain Web companies to use personal information about consumers for advertising without their consent.” Yahoo and Microsoft have already sent lobbyists to meet with Mr. Brodsky. The article covers some interesting issues that this bill raises.

Some interesting highlights from the article:

“A law like this essentially takes some of the gold away from marketers,” said Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. “But it’s the right thing to do. Consumers have no idea how much information is being collected about them, and the advertising industry should have to deal with that.”

“There has really been no harm shown by behavioral targeting or third-party advertising, so this rush to regulate the Internet is really unnecessary,” said Mike Zaneis, vice president for public policy for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an industry group that represents companies like Google and Yahoo.

Moreover, Mr. Zaneis said, the New York bill threatens to undercut the business model that supports the Web. “If you take the fuel out of this engine, you begin to see the free services and content dry up,” he said.

And to finish up, check out Janet Meiners’ post at Marketing Pilgrim about the British company Phorm. Apparently Phorm is using British ISPs to track every single action a British web surfer takes to be able to show them ads. The company claims they have access to the surfing habits of 70% of all British households that have broadband.

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