Behavioral targeting has become a recent target of Congressional scrutiny and public awareness. Personally, I believe behavioral targeting is a beautiful thing. It allows companies to allocate their resources to an audience that is much more likely to be interested in their job openings and avoid wasting money on impressions from likely uninterested job seekers. Why wouldn’t companies want to drill down and buy impressions from a targeted group? And on the flip side, I don’t mind seeing ads for products that I might actually be interested in – like scuba diving gear or local concert tickets. And it doesn’t bother me that I’m slotted into sub-categories based on my searches for “Roatan”, “Thai Restaurants, 30022” and “Tablescapes for the budget conscious”. In my opinion, targeted ads are less intrusive to the user. However, many people are afraid of Big Broogle and want to surf under the radar.
Largely because of legislative attention, Google and Yahoo recently starting allowing their users to opt out of targeting for both their network and DoubleClick’s network of ads. All it takes is one click. If there is a silver lining according to advertisers, it would be that allowing users to opt out is much better than asking users to opt in. I am predicting that the average internet user is not only unaware that they can opt out of targeted ads but also won’t know how to if given the chance. But maybe I underestimate the masses… only time will tell.
Google also just released Incognito, a new Google Chrome feature. In this surfing mode, all of a user’s history and cookies will be deleted once they close the window. This isn’t necessarily great news from a Campaign Management perspective. If someone sees an ad while using an Incognito window and then is served the same ad in a different surfing session, it counts them as a new unique user. Essentially, it will count them as two different people. I find it hard to believe though that Google would let Incognito interfere with their recent acquisition of DoubleClick. That just wouldn’t make much business sense.
In terms of a stealth mode feature, Google is a little slow on the draw. Both Firefox and Safari already have stealth modes. Private Browsing is built into Safari, taking just one click to activate. Firefox allows users to use an extension to mask their footprints on the web. Internet Explorer doesn’t currently offer a privacy mode, but it soon will. InPrivate Browsing will be an added feature for IE8, launching “sometime this year” (that’s seriously the closest launch date I could find).
Don’t hit the panic button yet. The bottom line is stealth modes will only slightly skew the data for both the TMP Worldwide Campaign Management Team and the analytics crews for the advertising sites. However, my intuition is that tracking for most recruitment campaigns will not be greatly affected. But if you’re trying to target paranoid job seekers, you might run into a problem. (But they’ve already been deleting their cookies manually for years). So remember when you’re looking at numbers, tracking is extremely beneficial, but it’s not an exact science.