HuffPo has just released an article by Randall Rothenberg, the IAB President, in which he defends the practice of behavioral targeting in the face of bills introduced to the The New York State and Connecticut legislatures, as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
Randall takes on University of Pennsylvania Professor Joseph Turow, who has written that interactive ads – as well as products, and services tailored to consumers’ interests — “encourage a particularly corrosive form of personal and social tension.” He also singles out Jeff Chester, the proprietor of an anti-marketing group called the Center for Digital Democracy who has sought to redefine “personal identity” to include anonymous shopping behavior. He goes on to say:
“Behavioral data is not personal. To paraphrase the famous New Yorker magazine cartoon, when you’re surfing the Internet, it’s still true that nobody knows you’re a dog. But providers can learn that you like dog biscuits, and serve you content and ads accordingly. Moreover, virtually all data collected online is behavioral – it derives from actions, not from survey responses. If politicians restrict it unthinkingly, advertising relevance will diminish, and spam will have a renaissance.”
Not a bad argument, but consumers are consumers. On this sunny day in 2008, fear and consumer desire still rules the roost.