DATA RAPE: The New Direct Marketing
Analyzing What You Have Typed
In a study of surveillance technology deployed by companies on the Internet, the Journal found that marketing-technology firm Lotame Solutions captures in real time what people are typing on a site and analyzes it ... After Lotame collects a Web user’s words, it sends the text to a U.K. company called OpenAmplify. OpenAmplify’s software reads the content and determines what the writer was saying— what topics are being discussed, how the author feels about those topics, and what the person is going to do about them.
—Wall Street Journal Staff, July 30, 2010
On the Web, Children Face Intensive Tracking
The Journal examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what tracking tools they installed on a test computer. As a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons" and other pieces of tracking technology. That is 30% more than were found in an analysis of the 50 most popular U.S. sites overall, which are generally aimed at adults.
—Steve Stecklow, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 17, 2010
Retargeting Ads Follow Surfers to Other Sites
The shoes that Julie Matlin recently saw on Zappos.com were kind of cute, or so she thought. But Ms. Matlin wasn't ready to buy and left the site. Then the shoes started to follow her everywhere she went online. An ad for those very shoes showed up on the blog TechCrunch. It popped up again on several other blogs and on Twitpic. It was as if Zappos had unleashed a persistent salesman who wouldn't take no for an answer. “For days or weeks, every site I went to seemed to be showing me ads for those shoes,” said Ms. Matlin, a mother of two from Montreal. “It is a pretty clever marketing tool. But it's a little creepy, especially if you don't know what's going on.” While the technique, which the ad industry calls personalized retargeting or remarketing, is not new, it is becoming more pervasive as companies like Google and Microsoft have entered the field. And retargeting has reached a level of precision that is leaving consumers with the palpable feeling that they are being watched as they roam the virtual aisles of online stores.
—Miguel Helft and Tanzina Vega, The New York Times, Aug. 29, 2010