The New York Times takes a look at online targeted behavioral advertising and how your shopping habits can follow you from one site’s advertisers to another’s.
People have grown accustomed to being tracked online and shown ads for categories of products they have shown interest in, be it tennis or bank loans.
Increasingly, however, the ads tailored to them are for specific products that they have perused online. While the technique, which the ad industry calls personalized retargeting or remarketing, is not new, it is becoming more pervasive as companies like Google and Microsoft have entered the field. And retargeting has reached a level of precision that is leaving consumers with the palpable feeling that they are being watched as they roam the virtual aisles of online stores. […]
In the digital advertising business, this form of highly personalized marketing is being hailed as the latest breakthrough because it tries to show consumers the right ad at the right time. […]
With more consumers queasy about intrusions into their privacy, the technique is raising anew the threat of industry regulation.
Others, though, find it disturbing. When a recent Advertising Age column noted the phenomenon, several readers chimed in to voice their displeasure. […]
Some advertising executives agree that highly personalized remarketing not only goes too far but also is unnecessary.
“I don’t think that exposing all this detailed information you have about the customer is necessary,” said Alan Pearlstein, chief executive of Cross Pixel Media, a digital marketing agency. Mr. Pearlstein says he supports retargeting, but with more subtle ads that, for instance, could offer consumers a discount coupon if they return to an online store. “What is the benefit of freaking customers out?”