Legal Issues Facing Email Marketers ... and How to Comply With Them, Part 2
This is part 2 of a three-part series on legal issues facing email marketers, including what the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act is and how to comply with it; how to safely manage your behavioral targeting campaigns; and how European data protection laws affect email marketers. This week I'll tackle behavioral targeting. In the May 28 issue, I'll examine European data protection laws. For part 1, and a look at how email marketers can set up their operations to comply with CAN-SPAM, click here.
Behavioral targeting is a technique used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. This type of targeting uses information collected on an individual's web-browsing behavior, such as pages they've visited or searches they've made, to select which advertisements to display to that individual.
Practitioners believe this helps marketers deliver relevant online advertisements to users most likely to be interested. Behavioral targeting can be used on its own or in conjunction with other forms of targeting based on factors like geography, demographics or surrounding content.
Government activity and privacy concerns
There's been significant activity in Washington, D.C. related to behavioral targeting. On May 4, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) announced their intention to introduce an online privacy bill. If passed, the bill would regulate how internet companies track web visitors and use that information for ad targeting. It also would apply to how companies collect and use consumer information offline. The bill was introduced in the wake of the European Union and Canadian Privacy Commission expressing their concerns regarding behavioral targeting activities.
What's more, a 2008 TRUSTe study about American internet users’ knowledge, attitudes and concerns about behavioral targeting and its implications on their online privacy revealed a high level of awareness of behavioral targeting and concern associated with tracking, even when not associated with personally identifiable information.