News From The Ad:Tech Conference

SEARCH ENGINE AD TECHNOLOGIES RAISE PRIVACY CONCERNS

Ad:Tech Session Looks at Data-Based Consumer Targeting Advances

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As Yahoo and Microsoft roll out more sophisticated search-advertising services relying on heavier use of personal data, they are likely to meet higher levels of concern and resistance from consumer privacy advocates, predicted an Ad:Tech panel yesterday.
Microsoft and Yahoo's search ad capabilities offer advertisers more accurate targeting because they utilize more detailed user data. But this could become a privacy issue, panelists warned.

The session was part of a three-day digital advertising conference at the New York Hilton this week.

Microsoft's AdCenter
Speakers said now that Microsoft has rolled out a test version of its AdCenter product, it, along with Yahoo Search, is able to combine keyword tracking information on consumers with demographic information it has collected from consumer registration data. This ability allows marketers to run search ad campaigns targeted at well-defined demographic segments.

“The more we know about you, the better we can target things of interest to you,” said Ron Belanger, Yahoo Search.

Jane Doe doesn’t mind seeing an ad when she’s in the market for a new Volkswagen, but if she is served online marketing that indicates a marketer knows her buying history, as well as what car she is researching online, she may panic, said Martin Laetsch, manager-worldwide search, Intel Corp.

Give-and-take relationship
Nevertheless, consumers understand the give-and-take relationship with marketers, Mr. Belanger said. In order for the marketer to get information, there has to be something the consumer gets for what they give. “It’s a teeter-totter of giving people what they want and still respecting privacy,” he added.

Plus, said David Jakubowski, general manager, MSN search strategy: “We make it clear that we don’t share [personally identifiable] information with any marketer.”

“But can you share it with me [the consumer]?” said John Battelle, chairman and publisher Federated Media and author of The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business.

Privacy policies, which indicate how consumer’s private data is used, “are very unclear,” Mr. Battelle added. There should be a transparent system, he said, in which consumers can view the data a marketer has collected on them and edit it. “We need to feel we can access what is known about us and change it.”

Federal Patriot Act
Mr. Battelle added that marketing privacy issues aside, a “major problem” is that under the Patriot Act, database companies are obliged to hand over to the government a consumer's personally identifiable information without notifying the consumer.

Overlaying database information on to search-tracking information is in many ways the brave new world of search marketing, even though these products are available today, panelists agreed.

In practice, though, many marketers are still taking baby steps, the panelists said. Marketers are asking, What budget should search come out of? How do I manage 10,000 keywords? Do agencies understand search?

Big, traditional agencies are holding search back, Mr. Laetsch said. “Until they understand search as a valid part of the marketing mix," it won’t reach the next level.

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