Consumers Balance Privacy, Relevancy

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NEW YORK - Though people want ads that are more relevant and know that they must give up more personal information to get them, they remain concerned about the concept of cookies.

This was discussed in a Direct Marketing Association-sponsored panel Sept. 27 during Advertising Week 2006. The Sept. 25-29 event, which hosts the largest gathering of advertising and media decision makers in North America, includes speakers, exhibitions, conferences and awards.

"The concept of getting ads based on your behavior, tracked by a text file, was OK, but calling it a cookie was not OK," said Omar Tawakol, chief marketing officer of Revenue Science, discussing privacy studies the company has sponsored in the past two years. "We still have to provide notice and consent at the point where we collect the data, and there are no rules about where you use the data, so I think where the industry is going is trying to be more transparent in the ad."

Revenue Science, which offers behavioral targeting technology, is considering adding a link to the top of ads that lets consumers do a universal opt out or tell the company more about themselves, he said.

Eric Eller, senior director of product marketing at, explained behavioral targeting's importance in testing.

"Behavioral targeting lets you test in-context versus out-context placement," he said. One client is an apparel retailer for plus-sized clothing, and has tested its targeting to different audiences. One that works well is a diet-focused audience, he said.

The client would never place ads on a diet site, but "because of the potential [PR] problem, they are more than happy to target those people when they are on other sites," he said.

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