Online Advertising With Gingerly Precision

By: Adam Nowak

The system tracks the Internet user, remembers his every click and query typed in the browser. As soon as it has gathered all information about the person, it gets to work. That is e-advertising of the future.

Everything happens automatically, without the potential client even noticing it. Every single access to the website is recorded and saved in a cookie file on the hard drive of the Website visitor. From that moment the Internet user is under constant observation meant to help answer the question who the user is and what they are interested in. The system will store information of the visitor. Even if the Internet user doesn't visit the Website for a couple of days, the system will recognize the user when they come back.

Using the proper terminology, the aim is to target an advertisement properly. It means, to deliver ads exactly to those people who are most important to advertisers. The Internet has lifted the art of targeting to a new level, probably known from the beginning of advertisement's history, which is unobtainable for traditional media. It's a fight for a huge market. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers company, the global advertising business was worth as much as 407 billion US dollars last year. The Internet input to this business is growing from year to year.

The Internet mechanisms of targeting are getting better and better from year to year as technology is developing and knowledge resources of Internet companies of their customers -actually of every single customer - are bigger and bigger. The latter issue is considered by many independent non-governmental organizations to be a serious threat to the privacy of Internet users.

We know where you are The simplest and the oldest method of targeting the advertisement (so-called contextual targeting) is to issue ads only on chosen parts of the website, e.g. only on economic Portals. It is nothing interesting. But so-called geo targeting, which means the delivering of ads dependent on the place the Internet user connects to the Internet, is a method unavailable for traditional media. Local companies are also issuing their own ads on the global Internet - e.g. language schools use the above mentioned method by directing their ads to only those students living in the cities they have branches in. Some ads are delivered only to people connecting to the Internet from abroad. This is the favoured way of self promotion for example airlines - says Mr MichaB Tober from Wirtualna Polska Web Portal.

How does it work? Adserver portals and services recognize the location of the Internet user by their computer's IP-number and it selects the most proper medium. They can be very exact.

We know how you connect to the Internet Web portals can also adjust the ads issued in the portal depending on the technology applied by the user while surfing the Internet - we can, for instance, deliver the selected ads only to those users who use a particular Internet connection, e.g. Microsoft, Google or Audi.

The ad can also be issued in a way that will deliver it directly to the computer which has a particular operating system (in favour of e.g. the Windows version). Its issuing depends on the Internet browser's net type used by the visitor (with accuracy to the number of its version) or on the display resolution.

We know what you like The newest and the most sophisticated method is so-called behavioural targeting. The system tracks the moves of a person in the Net, analyzes them, draws conclusions about the observed user and his/her interests. When its gathered knowledge is sufficient, it starts delivering the ads.

-This kind of process takes months in our company, it is based mainly on summing up the Internet user's visits on a particular thematic Website. The users who act according to a determined algorithm get a special profile, e.g. 'culture', 'travels', 'parents', 'investments' or 'health'. Of course the users are followed anonymously and we don't know who they are personally.

Next time they visit the portal, they will see the ads destined specially for their profile. Therefore, a person who ranks among people with the profile 'parents' will see ads for some magazines for parents, toys or baby accessories while reading sports news. Once their interests change, the system will record it.

Another example is a campaign conducted for Peugeot cars on Gazeta.pl Website. With the approval of the company, the portal has been checking automatically which users visit the Peugeot website and issued its advertisements only to them. In this way, people who were considering the purchase of a car, were additional encouraged to select this French brand.

We will make a fortune "Just two-three years ago, IT- companies have begun more serious experiments with behavioural targeting. It is estimated that the behavioural targeted ads expenses will continue to increase in the next half of the decade up to some several dozen per cent", an analysts from the InternetResearche company writes in their June report. According to the InternetResearches report, in 2011 the biggest Internet advertisers will be targeting almost half of their ads using the behavioural targeting method.

Where is your privacy? In the opinion of a professional colleague from online advertising business - who, as we know, hates an excess of Internet ads - an Internet user should be satisfied with new methods. Why? Because thanks to behavioural targeting, the user will see ads which may be helpful to him, instead of getting through the ads jungle.

Mentioned takeovers - especially an investment of Google in DoubleClick company - developed great concerns. Discussing the privacy problem, Human Rights Defenders complain that Google would soon be able not only to gather information about who was looking for what in the Internet, but also who visited which Websites, what movies and clips they watched on the Internet, on which ads they clicked, etc. - too much personal information about everyone of us starts to be in the hands of one firm - says Jeff Chester, the Executive Director of a non-governmental organization Center for Digital Democracy in the portal News.com. The company's aim is, among others, a protection of privacy on the Internet. In June the British organization Privacy International (PI) which also protects privacy, took Google among the biggest Internet concerns for the main enemy of privacy. Yahoo! Portal was only a little better in the rankings.

For now, the only solace to those who don't want to be followed and don't want their every move in the Internet to be recorded, can only be the fact that all the above mentioned methods of identification work with the help of cookie files. When the user deletes these files, the system goes blind and has to gather information from scratch.

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