Rob Becker

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

In reality, the always-on, always-connected consumer has many ways to communicate, buy products and services, and relate to a brand 24/7. These consumers are no longer targets at the end of a sales funnel or information push. They're at the center of—and often the beginning of—a brand dialogue.

Ever since marketing dashboards became popular in 2007-2008, marketers have been optimizing them to meet their needs. Rather than having the systems be dumping grounds for data, users are adding functionality from analytics to cross-departmental communication capabilities to make the systems as useful as possible.

Keeping track of trends in behavioral targeting is a study in contradictions. While businesses are wary of controversy, they're crowding into this space of tracking consumer behavior. And while consumers dread being tracked online, they resist barriers to "free" content. Here to clear up a few misconceptions and provide an update on the contested but increasingly popular practice are...

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