To Be Or Not To Be (Tracked, That Is)

December 10, 2010by hiebing2021

To Be Or Not To Be (Tracked, That Is)

A casual reader of the news could get confused easily. The growing popularity of place-based social media tools, like Facebook Places, FourSquare, Gowalla and Loopt, make those apps “mobile media must-haves” for users wanting to check in – and get special deals – at their favorite haunts. Despite this, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is proposing the online marketing community create a Do Not Track list similar to the current Do Not Call list for telemarketers. This is one of several new consumer privacy recommendations the FTC issued this week. You would think that if consumers were that concerned about privacy they wouldn’t be tweeting their every thought online.

So is consumer privacy really threatened by current eMarketing or not? Like anything in marketing today, that depends on which consumers you’re talking about. Most people today are happy to trade a little bit of personal information for a coupon, a special offer, or even a free application. On the other hand, others are very concerned about the plethora of information being collected about them and their online activity.

The industry just needs to be more transparent about what they’re tracking and why. As eMarketers, we want to watch consumer data and online behaviors to understand what different groups are doing – so that we can in turn deliver more customized messages to them. And for the most part, consumers do want those targeted, relevant offers from the companies they follow.

For the past several years it’s been a pretty basic trade off: The industry continues to put systems in place to better serve consumers’ needs, and consumers get the ad messages they may actually be interested in. And when they check into Starbucks on FourSquare, they also get rewarded with relevant coupons, deals and special offers.

So, for those in the FTC, please don’t protect me from online advertising. There are plenty of ways for me to do that now.

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