Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Election Took Online Targeting to a New Level

Isn't it ironic that the Obama administration, which threatens regulation to protect online privacy, pushed online targeting to a whole new level to win re-election? Gordon Crovitz, a Wall Street Journal" columnist, makes that point in a recent piece on how politicians are now leveraging massive databases for online "hypertargeting." First, like commercial online advertisers, a political campaign drops a "cookie" on user computers to track online habits -- and the Obama team dropped 87 million different cookies on unsuspecting visitors, Crovitz notes. Then, like sophisticated online retailers, online activity data is enhanced by demographics (like sex and age) and purchase behaviors (like charity donations). Finally, the data is politically enriched by publicly available voter records. And don't forget the trove of data mined from social media. And yet the same politicians talk about regulating commercial data usage! It would be less hypocritical and more economically sensible, as Crovitz argues, for the winner of the White House to "give credit to how his campaign made smart use of targeted advertising online -- and then let the Internet continue to evolve without getting in the way." To read the WSJ column, see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204846304578096982338148870.html

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