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Microsoft Using Personal Data to Target Ads 139

Posted by timothy
from the so-be-good-for-bidness'-sake dept.
smooth wombat writes "Microsoft is combing personal data with your search habits to produce targeted ads. Users who use Microsoft's Hotmail email service, msn.com news service and other Microsoft-owned sites will see ads specific to their demographic and interests. From the article: 'Microsoft executives say the system works anonymously and they won't pass on people's names or addresses to advertisers. Executives say they want to foster confidence in users to build a long-term business, and one that gives an incentive to not misuse personal details.' "We're in the early days of behavioral targeting but it's an idea whose time has come,' says Simon Andrews, chief digital strategy officer for WPP Group's MindShare, a large buyer of ad time. 'There is a lot of potential to know if people have been looking at specific sites.'"
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Microsoft Using Personal Data to Target Ads

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  • by vmfedor (586158) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:29PM (#17389106)
    This article is sure to be greeted positively by the Slashdot community!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by creimer (824291)
      Would that be based on Microsoft, Yahoo! or Google research results? Or did you just bump your into the wall to get this idea? Inquiring minds want to know...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Being honest, if these guys think they can defeat the combination of my appalling typing in search engine boxes and the spoofed mail account details, they're welcome to try (what, you think I'm really called 'Wibble Blah'?). And if they suceed, I'll ditch the account and get a new one.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wow its a good thing I told them I was born in 1959 instead of 1979.....come on Viagra!!!
    • by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:05PM (#17391206) Homepage Journal

      I've never understood this myself. Microsoft and friends are going to push ads at us either way, I would just as soon see ads for stuff that I am actually interested in. When I go to a store and the salesman knows me well enough to actually be helpful I chalk that up to good service. Why should a website be any different?

      I think that the real problem is that a lot of slashdotters don't like the picture that the sum of their online information paints about them. If you don't like the picture that your online experience paints of you, then you might want to reconsider how you act while online.

      • Damn straight. It's shocking, but sometimes I actually follow context-based ads from google. Because I'm actually interested in buying the service. In other words, I was already thinking of buying something similar to what they advertised, the advert made me aware the company sold it. The right wing half of my brain thinks any other form of advertising ought to be banned.
      • When I go to a store and the salesman knows me well enough to actually be helpful I chalk that up to good service. Why should a website be any different?

        But to complete the analogy you'd have to be comfortable with the idea of the salesman noting down every last detail about your visit, including bizarre things like the route you took as you browsed around the shop in the early stages. Now this may not seem unreasonable (though he is writing down literally everything you do, as well as looking up other dat

        • by Jason Earl (1894)

          Most physical stores I enter actually *film* me the entire time I am in the store. I fail to see how monitoring my clickstream is more intrusive than that.

          Here's the deal. When I am in public (and the Internet certainly counts as a public place) I try to behave myself with a certain sense of decorum. If someone wants to take notes so that they have a better chance of selling me stuff that's fine by me. I buy stuff every day. I would just as soon spend my money with retailers that are paying attention

      • by gmack (197796)

        The down side of this is that if they are scraping my inbox to determine my interests the spam is really going to throw this thing off. I can see getting a lot of ads for viagra, lotteries and Canadian drugs.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Joebert (946227)
          You didn't know ?
          Spam has been using the advanced system that Microsoft is going to claim to have invented for years. Viagra, lotteries, & Canadian Drugs really are what we all need.
      • "I would just as soon see ads for stuff that I am actually interested in. When I go to a store and the salesman knows me well enough to actually be helpful I chalk that up to good service. Why should a website be any different?"

        The difference is that they have very likely have enormous amounts of personal and personally identifiable information that can be sold to other companies, and employees or groups/divisions within Microsoft who can be bribed by other companies which could very easily have emails copi
        • by Jason Earl (1894)

          Perhaps it is just because I grew up in a small town, but I am used to people knowing who I am. When I go shopping in my home town chances are good that the person behind the counter not only knows who I am, but who my parents and grandparents are as well. Heck, chances are good that they taught me in Sunday School and know all sorts of embarrassing stories about me.

          Likewise I have never considered my full name to be some sort of secret. I'll happily supply my name to anyone that asks. In fact, I don'

      • by syousef (465911)
        Hey I do a lot of things that I'm not ashamed of that I don't want the whole world knowing about just so they can target their advertising at me. Targetted advertising is also somewhat manipulative even if that manipulation does have some benefit to me.

        If you don't have a problem with it, fine, make it opt in so people like you can have your targetted ads. However saying that anyone that doesn't like this doesn't like the imagine their online behaviour paints of them is downright insulting, not to mention n
      • Of course, but it is not the intended consequences that you need to worry about.

        In the US, this kind of consumer preference data is being used for intelligence purposes as well. It comes down to the question of who owns the records. In the US it's not you. So, the FBI could simply ask MS (or whoever) for the data, and they could, if they wished, give it to them. In practice, this kind of information is simply being sold, and law enforcement is creating "fusion" centers in which data from different sour
        • Very well written and thought-out post. I'm surprised it wasn't modded up. But I do want to change one thing you mentioned:

          Consumer preference data is not very suitable for intelligence use, particularly as the primary source of information used for screening.

          Here you are very very wrong. You might want to know that this "consumer data" has been used for political purposes in recent elections. I found out about it (but they want to keep it under wraps) from a Frontline: The Persuaders [pbs.org]. The deal is that it i

          • by hey! (33014)

            Consumer data is very very valuable when combined with other data


            Here you put your finger on the key point. It has some value when combined, with care, with other data. In isolation it is worse than useless, because it ties you up with false positives (see "base rate fallacy").
  • This is AWESOME! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:32PM (#17389134)
    I use my hotmail address as a spam honeypot anyhow; now Microsoft is leading the (sp)lambs to the slaughter!

    What a shame I don't use Microsoft's "Start" search. ;^D

    Oh, and BTW - First Post?

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Twench (580538) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:32PM (#17389136)
    Good thing Google doesn't do this with Gmail by scanning your info and producing targeted ads in a side bar ... oh ... wait!
    • by Achoi77 (669484)

      seriously, it's nothing real new. It just sounds like MS is playing catchup.

      Besides, some of those targeted ads are pretty handy for the senseless emails I've been sending out about 'planning trips with friends' and whatnot - I wonder why people are still screaming for blood about their privacy, I figured by this time the majority of the population have gone to learn not to email their ssn, bank statements or tax info around.

    • It's not the same thing. The article is about Microsoft using personal data (admittedly, data that is entered by the users themselves) along with search and browsing habits to create ads. This is a whole different ballpark from delivering ads that are relevant to content you are viewing at some particular moment, i.e. an email you're reading mentions cats, you get ads about cats, to take an example I noticed on Gmail just today. Personally, I'm fine with that. But creating a huge database that combines pers

      • by imsabbel (611519)
        yeah, the same as it is with google.

        They will also scan your emails and your searches, create a profile and use if for the ads.
      • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @02:11PM (#17389620) Homepage
        is stated here:

        http://www.google.com/privacy.html [google.com]

        Personal information and other data we collect

                * Google collects personal information when you register for a Google service or otherwise voluntarily provide such information. We may combine personal information collected from you with information from other Google services or third parties to provide a better user experience, including customizing content for you.
                * Google uses cookies and other technologies to enhance your online experience and to learn about how you use Google services in order to improve the quality of our services.
                * Google's servers automatically record information when you visit our website or use some of our products, including the URL, IP address, browser type and language, and the date and time of your request.
                * Read more in the full privacy policy.

        Uses

                * We may use personal information to provide the services you've requested, including services that display customized content and advertising.
                * We may also use personal information for auditing, research and analysis to operate and improve Google technologies and services.
                * We may share aggregated non-personal information with third parties outside of Google.
                * When we use third parties to assist us in processing your personal information, we require that they comply with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.
                * We may also share information with third parties in limited circumstances, including when complying with legal process, preventing fraud or imminent harm, and ensuring the security of our network and services.
                * Google processes personal information on our servers in the United States of America and in other countries. In some cases, we process personal information on a server outside your own country.
                * Read more in the full privacy policy.

        Your choices

                * We offer you choices when we ask for personal information, whenever reasonably possible. You can find more information about your choices in the privacy notices or FAQs for specific services.
                * You may decline to provide personal information to us and/or refuse cookies in your browser, although some of our features or services may not function properly as a result.
                * We make good faith efforts to provide you access to your personal information upon request and to let you correct such data if it is inaccurate and delete it, when reasonably possible.
                * Read more in the full privacy policy.
      • by B.D.Mills (18626)
        an email you're reading mentions cats, you get ads about cats

        Now we know what ELIZA programmers do for a living these days.
    • by loconet (415875)
      Difference is, Google doesn't also create the operating system that 99% of these people use.
      • Equally relevent (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by ClosedSource (238333)
        Google wasn't started by somebody with the initials B.G. either.
      • by malfunct (120790) *
        No, they are the web search that 99% of people type every idea that hits thier mind into from the same IP and browser window. So Google is likely to have FAR more info about you than Microsoft even wishes to have in thier wettest advertising dreams.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, my friend, that's a totally different can of worms.
      Gmail presents you with ads based on the content of the page you are *currently* looking at. It does not rely on any personal information about you.
      It sounds like what Microsoft is doing is identifying who are every time you use any of their web services and building up a persistent personal profile of what you are interested in. So next time your significant other asks you why she keeps getting porn ads on every site she visits when she uses your compu
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rgriff59 (526951)

        ...ads based on the content of the page you are *currently* looking at...

        That is a major distinction, and my chief concern. Persistence over sessions can be a pain. People are not, despite the marketers' opinions, single mode entities. One can be privately looking for bare boobs at 10 PM, even though at 6 PM, in the company of a wide eyed 3 year old, you were looking for pooh bear. Same computer, same account, but not at ALL the same marketing opportunity.

      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Achromatic1978 (916097) <{robert} {at} {chromablue.net}> on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:47PM (#17391702)
        Gmail presents you with ads based on the content of the page you are *currently* looking at. It does not rely on any personal information about you. It sounds like what Microsoft is doing is identifying who are every time you use any of their web services and building up a persistent personal profile of what you are interested in.

        You keep on believing that Gmail does no such thing. As previously pointed out, even their privacy policy says different. Signed up for Orkut? With all your profile data there? Guess what, "Google uses personal information provided when you register for any Google service..."

        So, again, I'm confused, what's the difference, other than "Most slashdotters make brownnosers look amateur with their efforts to worship the ground Google walks on"?

    • So the trick for MS to get away with evil is to let Google do it first. Then just copy them. As long as Google does it first everybody will justify it as somehow being okay.
  • Meh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sgt.greywar (1039430)
    I suppose this sort of thing doesn't really bother me. Frankly oftentimes I even opt-in to this sort of stuff. I like seeing things I am interested in (tech, games, etc) and I am not interested in seeing ads for things that I have zero interest in (donkey calliopes). At least this makes the ad-spam more interesting.
    • I suppose this sort of thing doesn't really bother me. Frankly oftentimes I even opt-in to this sort of stuff. I like seeing things I am interested in (tech, games, etc) and I am not interested in seeing ads for things that I have zero interest in (donkey calliopes). At least this makes the ad-spam more interesting.

      I worked in the ad business for a short time, and one of the many horrible things I learned then is that advertisers don't want to show you ads for stuff you're interested in, they want to harass you with ads for stuff you're not YET interested in, to change your mind.

      You'll find out about your own interests on your dime.

    • by misleb (129952)
      Whenever someone mentions targeted advertising I think of Minority Report. *shudder*

      I don't normally see sci-fi scenarios literally happening, but this particular one is not too far away at all (the targeted advertisements bit, not the crime prediction bit)

      I say block all unsolicited ads indiscriminately. Let's not let the advertisers think they have found some kind of ethical way to invade our heads and manipulate us.

      -matthew
    • More than just making the ad-spam more interesting, it is wonderful to feed to your Bayesian filter. Now you can actually train your filter to tell the difference between the advertising/newsletters that come from their company and have a hope in hell of containing information interesting to you, and the stuff that comes from their "affiliates".

      I'm not really bothered by a search engine customizing advertising and other content based on my search preferences. Mind you, I haven't used the word "llama" in a s
  • by brennanw (5761) *
    Isn't this exactly what people were afraid Doubleclick was going to do six or seven years ago when they bought that mass junk mail database? Public outcry was so huge then that Doubleclick had to very publically back off.

    I wonder if the majority of people even care now? I do, and I suspect a fair number of Slashdotters do, but I don't think most people even notice these days. Or they've given up.
    • I wonder if the majority of people even care now?

      No, almost certainly not. It's really easy to rile people up over something, like hula hoops or the environment, but long-term exposure wears resistance and levels of concern down to malleable levels. Just look at the UK's increasingly Panopticon society, or the shrugs the average guy on the street gives at the mention of rising sea levels or identity theft. If it doesn't directly and conspicuously harm them (and even then), then it quickly drops down the

  • 'There is a lot of potential to know if people have been looking at specific sites'
    Spammers say the same thing; so where's the opt-out button? Granted, people could just refuse to use the service, but they have to be aware of what's going on, too.

    Of course, it's not like I expect privacy on the Internet, anyway. :P
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by malfunct (120790) *
      I don't know if its still there but somewhere in the privacy statements for MSN sites was a 1-800 number you could call to opt out of all ad targeting that was linked to your passport account.
  • by monkeyserver.com (311067) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:35PM (#17389172) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure people will get up in arms, but this is what everyone does. They take all the info they have about you and they try to find out how to use that to most effectively market to you. Google does it, and so do most retailers. Retailers look at demographic info they have, purchase and return behaviors, and they often buy "data appends", or data about you collected by third parties, to augment their info.

    They don't use this to hunt you down, spy on you in the bathroom, or brainwash you. What they do is figure out, statistically, based on this info, what you will buy, and try to sell that to you. It's how they make money more effeciently, and when done right, it's a service to you too. This is on the rise too, the best thing to do here is to embrace it and encourage companies to behave responsibly with this new-found knowledge.
    • by eMbry00s (952989)
      It's not a service I want since I consider buying things that I wasn't specifically hunting for to be a very bad thing. Also, dataleaks [ncl.ac.uk].
      • Who says it's not what you were looking for? If all signs point to the fact that you are looking for a new SUV, why shouldn't a car company show you advertising for it? Have you ever watched TV or driven down the street? Every company under the sun is trying to sell you crap you don't want. What if they were trying to sell you crap you might actually want? Wouldn't that be more valuable? So instead of just wasting screen real estate with offers you don't care about, why not try and make use of that. I agree
    • Service? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fuzzums (250400)
      Well. Maybe you're right. I remember last time I clicked on a banner and bought something that was....
      Wait. That was... Sorry. Can't remember.

      Well let's say that was WAY before 2003.
      • Exactly, that's because banners often aren't targetted. Most companies don't do this because the cpu needs are high and they don't have the right info. People are beaten over the head with irrelevant adds for items they could care less about. If you were shown ads for things that more closely related to what you were looking to buy it may actually help.

        What do you think the AdWords business model is based on?
    • by eln (21727)
      Yah, but this is based on search results! I, I mean this guy I know, doesn't want to be constantly bombarded with people trying to sell him midget porn.

    • True but most arguments about privacy revolve around the unintended consequences that arise. Tinfoil hat conspiracies aside, add the phrase "Microsoft Executives say..." and it's enough to give anyone a slight case of the willies.

      Here's a pretty good comment on the issue (the site name is misleading):

      http://www.overclockers.com/tips01084/ [overclockers.com]

      • That article makes a good point, but all new tech has unintended consequences. Of course you *shouldn't* be surfing porn at work, or not working (looks guiltily in mirror). But if you do, then you should log out of MSN first, or clear cookies, this may not always be easy, but I don't think this advertising would be blatently obvious. Besides, I don't think NYT will ever show naked ppl, they have basic standards for what they will show. If you are visiting reputable sites in front of your boss nothing incrim
    • Thats pretty idealistic don't you think? Have you ever worked with advertising people or companies? Some of the bigger ones have on staff, fulltime psychologists. The most disgusting form of this is CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS used to market to children. I mean theres your most vulnerable consumer right there. He cant even speak yet but he knows he wants a $500 dora the explorer lil playset and will cry cry cry when he cant have it. When I was young, my parents told me "everything you see on TV advertising is lies.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The most disgusting form of this is CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS used to market to children.

        I'm not really sure why that is so disgusting. toys have been marketed to children since Barbie - literally the first toy to be marketed directly to children. Amusingly, Barbie is based on a cartoon whore [salon.com].

        It only makes sense to use science to make marketing effective.

        Its not some advertising thats bad, its ALL advertising. Its all lies, all of it.

        You learned the wrong lesson - since that's not remotely true. All advertisi

  • by malfunct (120790) * on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:36PM (#17389194) Homepage
    This is not new and so far as I know not unique to Microsoft. The advertiser buys a "segment" of people and when a person in the segment views a Microsoft owned website they see the add that is "targeted" to them. A segment of people would be like Male 18-25 who likes cars. To be honest this is the same sort of thing that advertisers have purchased for years its just that Microsoft has the ability to better know if the viewer has those tastes. I'm not sure at all why this is some sort of new privacy concern for people. I also think most of the readers here understand that every other major advertising player online is trying to do the same thing. Those big players probably being Yahoo and Google of course.

    Ways to avoid being "tracked" are to clear your cookies and don't sign in to sites. Of course then you will get to see the ads you could care less about instead of something that might possibly be useful to you.

    As far as the claim that a person that buys a large portion of ads could start to identify people I don't at all buy it because Microsoft states, and I trust they follow the statement given the scrutiny that they recieve from all sides, that they don't pass your data on. Whats likely is that a person buys a segment for thier ads and at the end they get a report that says, "We were able to satisfy xx% of your request in xx days". They might also get info like "If you had booked your add on xxx.msn.com instead of zzz.msn.com we could have satisfied tt% more of your request and if you had booked both we could have satisfied the entire request."

    One way that you could be "identified" is if you actually clicked through any of the ads in which case they could assign your IP or a cookie on your machine to a profile that has the segment information from the ad you clicked through on pre-populated.
  • I am curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:40PM (#17389256)
    As to how /. readers will react to this compared to the privacy concerns with Gmail [slashdot.org].

    To refresh your memory:

    Don't want your messages to be readable by the 'wrong' people? Encrypt 'em real good, or don't use email.

    But if someone wants to provide a free service, then you get what you pay for. Be sure you read the terms of service. If you don't like it, use something else.

    Erase the cookie. Don't use the service. How do you know Yahoo! doesn't read all it's mail?
    • Actually, as someone has previously said, what Google does is very different than what MS is talking about doing. Google doesn't scan all your email, mesh it with your profile you filled out to get the account, track every search you make using their service and then tie it all in on a private back end system to keep for who knows how long.

      What Google does is scan what document (email or webpages with their ad code) you have open and target ads based on what is in the current page. They don't track you b
      • Again, which is why their privacy policy explicitly states that they do far more than that - that any information you provide to any Google service (the example I used was Orkut, which has a wealth of personal information) can and will be meshed together. Don't believe me? Go read it, and don't lambast people for saying things which are actually correct, but don't conform to the groupthink.
      • by TheSpoom (715771) *
        Oh, of course, Google would never think of doing something like having a cookie that tracks you across all sites using Adsense [blogspot.com]... ;^)
  • GOOGLE DOES THE EXACT SAME THING!

    Their incoming mailserver reads your e-mail and gives you things to potentially see or do with it. It finds parcel tracking numbers, assuming they're correctly formatted, for USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL and maybe more, addresses to map -- and also links to products and services with keywords the same as phrases found in the e-mail you're reading.

    There isn't anything wrong with this, either -- you're using their service, they're providing ads in a non-invasive manner to recoup
    • by bheer (633842)
      > they're providing ads in a non-invasive manner to recoup some of the costs of their service being given away (or sold for dirt-cheap, as in a Hotmail Premium account.

      If you have a Hotmail premium account, you don't see any ads on most MSN properties (and no ad footers on your email either). (ob. disclaimer: I do pay for a Hotmail account because they provide a pretty decent service, and because Gmail wouldn't take my money. Free web mail is for mugs.)

    • GOOGLE DOES THE EXACT SAME THING!

      FTFA:
      The Redmond, Wash., giant says it can take behavioral targeting to a higher level. It has begun combining personal data from the 263 million users of its free Hotmail email service -- the biggest in the world -- with information gained from monitoring their searches.

      When people sign up to use Hotmail, they are asked for 13 pieces of personal information, including age, occupation and address -- though providing all the data isn't obligatory. If they use Live Search, Microsoft's rival to Google's searc

  • This really isn't anything new. A few years ago I worked on an advertising project that involved tracking your preferences which pulled information from your profile to tailor the ads that you received. It was smart advertising, because it led to higher click-through rates. We didn't pass your information on to other firms unless it was noted in our privacy contract - and even that was a completely separate process. For ads, it was a lot wiser to fill your sidebar and popups with age/sex/interest specific a
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      pulled information from your profile to tailor the ads that you received. It was smart advertising

            I fail to see the logic in that. Oh look, he bought , that means he must like , let's bombard him with offers for MORE of . If I just bought one, it's actually LESS likely I am going to buy that same kind of product again...no matter how many ads.
      • by Melaniek (1034184)

        I fail to see the logic in that. Oh look, he bought , that means he must like , let's bombard him with offers for MORE of . If I just bought one, it's actually LESS likely I am going to buy that same kind of product again...no matter how many ads.

        Knowing your purchasing history helps see what kind of products/services you may be interested in either now or at some point in the future. This is more about direct marketing on a one to one basis than it is about advertising in a more traditional sense

    • "I worked on an advertising project that involved tracking your preferences which pulled information from your profile .. We didn't pass your information on to other firms unless it was noted in our privacy contract" I don't want people tracking my preferences, not for any nefarious purpose, it's just none of your business. Even so see what happened to this Fireman, er .. gender neutral/fighter when he bought something with his Store Card.

      "Philip Scott Lyons .. was arrested last August and charged with
  • > There is a lot of potential to know if people have been looking at specific sites.

    And this is why I've given up my mobile phone, why my hard disks are encrypted, why I'm going to run my own SMTP/POP servers, and why I'm starting to think about not using Google any more.

    If you don't reject it, you're passively accepting it.
  • Clippy (Score:5, Funny)

    by justkarl (775856) * on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:43PM (#17389292) Homepage
    "I see you're trying to search for Porn. Would you like to try Microsoft Porn for free?"
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @01:47PM (#17389340)
    There is a lot of potential to know if people have been looking at specific sites.

    The only sites I look at are Slashdot and pron, so put that in your database and smoke it.
  • Confidence? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ubrgeek (679399)
    "Executives say they want to foster confidence in users to build a long-term business"

    Shouldn't they start with building a secure operating system, rather than targeted ads?
  • ...primarily because I know that there will be ads online no matter WHAT I do...Adblock is a great firefox plugin, but still...ads are everywhere. If I am going to be forced to have them on the pages that I frequently view (like my hotmail account) I would MUCH rather that they be pertinant to my interests. I don't care about Botox, but an advert for a sale on an nvidia 8800...see, that I wouldn't mind
    • by Sporkinum (655143)
      Adblock is a great firefox plugin, but still...ads are everywhere.
      If you are still seeing ads, you aren't using adblock correctly.

      Unless they make them serve from the same server the content is from and don't have the path different from other graphics, or just make them text that is part of the normal served page, I see no advertising at all.
  • Everybody does this, or is trying too. News would be a simple,100 per cent effective way of defeating it's use.
  • by Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @02:13PM (#17389646)
    . . . while logged in, be it with the Great Satan Microsoft or the All-Angelic Google, is a recipe for having a dossier built on yourself that Bob-knows-who will have access to in perpetuity. If you must use Hotmail, Gmail, MSN messenger, or what-have-you, at least use a separate browser instance running through TOR or JAP that's not logged in as you for your searching needs. Years later, when you need a security clearance, have to have a background investigation, or heaven forbid run for office, you'll thank yourself for not having left those behavioral breadcrumbs behind. Even if your searches are totally innocent, their being dredged up can't be of benefit to you, only detriment.
  • by bmajik (96670)
    This is _exactly_ what I want.

    You know what pisses me off more than ads?

    Ads that do not apply to me in any way whatsoever. I do not want spam about penis enlargement, about meeting women, or about hot stock tips.

    If I only ever saw ads for:
    - specials on go-fast parts for the particular year and model of each of my cars
    - deals on ram from brands i trust for types of computers i already own
    - used sun equipment on ebay
    - lenses for Canon EOS systems

    i'd probably click on a ton more ads, and buy more stuff. I wi
  • This headline could read:

      • Google Using Personal Data to Target Ads
      • Yahoo Using Personal Data to Target Ads
      • Netscap Using Personal Data to Target Ads
      • Apple Using Personal Data to Target Ads
      • Real Using Personal Data to Target Ads
      • Any-Fricken-Company-With-a-Web-Presence-and-a-Ma rketing-Department Using Personal Data to Target Ads

    Who in the world thought this was NEWS?

  • Virtually every advertiser in the world wants the ability to target their ads since it's more economical. Other search engines have been doing it for years. Companies like DoubleClick, etc. have been doing it for years. The advertising that's starting to appear on mobile phones (like Tuesday's article [slashdot.org] about Verizon Wireless) is all targeted as much as possible. The only way you can target ads is by using some sort of personal information, whether it's anonymous cookies, the physical location that your ce
    • by Sporkinum (655143)
      Companies like DoubleClick, etc. have been doing it for years.

      I'd love to see philanthropic hacker create a worm that updates the host table to 127.0.0.1 DoubleClick, etc.
  • Big Deal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KwKSilver (857599) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @02:29PM (#17389828)
    I'm no fan of MS, but what else is new? If you don't like it don't use the product. MS's EULAs give MS the right to do whatever they want to with your data, and even if the EULA didn't it gives MS the right to change the EULA to say whatever they want it to say & you can agree or kiss your files goodbye. Isn't stuff like this the real reason why index.dat link [wikipedia.org] files are around? To feed MS data to use? Again, if you don't like it, don't use the stuff. There are ways out.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @02:39PM (#17389966)
    It's very trivial to discover who people are, especially if you're combing and data mining their email for details to build reports to give to advertisers. Not only that, it's trivially simpler to correlate who people are with email and their IP addresses. So much private information passes through the email system, I would not be surprised if their are entire databases decribing everything about a person, their interests and their life that they have revealed through public email system to private friends, lovers and colleagues over the internet.

    You cannot have privacy in a modern economy everyone leaves breadcrumbs everywhere by interacting with businesses.
  • when They wanted my credit card number to verify my identity.
  • From the article: 'Microsoft executives say the system works anonymously and they won't pass on people's names or addresses to advertisers.

    Why, of course they won't pass *my* info onto advertisers. All they'll have to go on is an IP and maybe a name - it's not like I use my real address when applying for any free online services. I only use a real address and/or phone # if I actually want the people in question to contact me like if I'm buying a product online and want it to be shipped to me.

    -b.

  • I have yet to see any web ads that could in any manner be called "targeted" at me based on my interests, from any source. It's always the usual trash ads for stuff nobody with an IQ greater than their shoe size would want.
  • I'm a bit disappointed.
  • Are people really so egotistical as to think that Microsoft or any corporation cares about them and their habits individually?

    We're all just statistics. They care if 70% of a given demographic searches for 'PS2' over 'Xbox'. They don't care that you personally search for 'hot naked redheads'.

    Personally, if I'm going to see ads, I'd rather see ones that are more likely to match my interests. I know, ads are evil and all that, and I usually just tune them out anyway, but if one actually does help me discov
    • by Legion303 (97901)
      "They don't care that you personally search for 'hot naked redheads'."

      What the...WHO TOLD YOU?

      Fucking Microsoft marketers.
  • I'm surprised so many people are complaining about ads in the days of adblock and adblock plus. I hardly ever see ads.
  • by WPIDalamar (122110) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @04:26PM (#17391466) Homepage
    Ad's aren't annoying in themselves, ad's you don't care about are annoying.

    If you happen to see an ad that tells you about something you're interested in, that's a good thing for you and for the marketer and things like this just make that more likely.

  • Actually, I think they did just that!

  • "We're in the early days of behavioral targeting but it's an idea whose time has come,' says Simon Andrews"

    So, they think of me as a "target." And they're surprised that I don't like this?

    "1a. An object, such as a padded disk with a marked surface, that is shot at to test accuracy in rifle or archery practice. b. Something aimed or fired at. 2. An object of criticism or attack. 3. One to be influenced or changed by an action or event. 4. A desired goal. 5. A railroad signal that indicates the position of a
  • So why am I getting ads for penile enlargement and xbox 360's?

    I don't need either.
  • Even more so ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kbahey (102895) on Thursday December 28, 2006 @06:15PM (#17392738) Homepage
    Well, here is a real life case from a relative of mine:

    Last October, he was searching Yahoo for a website of a conference that was held in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Less than an hour later he receives an email from Expedia, which he used before to book travel (and probably checked off or left checked, a box that says "send me spam").

    The email from Expedia says:

    "Dear X, Looking for a hotel in Sao Paulo? We make it easy, thanks to a variety of ways to search. Plus, with our Best Price Guarantee, you'll always get the lowest price. The best rooms and rates go fast--start your hotel search now."


    So, does Yahoo sell the info in real time to rival Microsoft, rather than their own Yahoo Travel? Or what?

    It can't be a coincidence for sure.
    • Certainly this is too unlikely to be a coincidence, but that doesn't guarantee Yahoo sold the info. Have you considered spyware? I never use Yahoo search (and only occasionally Live search) and I don't know Yahoo's privacy policy, but them selling personally associated search info to a company like Expedia (unless there's some partnership between then that I don't know aout?) seems unlikely. On the other hand, this is exactly the sort of behavior one might see if one's machine has spyware. I'm not saying it
      • by kbahey (102895)
        He is using MS IE, so spyware is a possibility, but then again, this means Microsoft is in collusion with Spyware companies, which is unlikely. Much as they do a lot of bad things, being a monopoly and all, actively supporting referrals via spyware is not something that they would do.

        The other thing may be this: Yahoo, naturally, favors its own Yahoo Travel, but if someone does not have an account there, why not make the best of the situation and pass the info (for a fee) to competition.

  • Ads? What ads?

    No ads to see here, please move along...
  • My GF uses HotMail, so I tried a little user research myself:

    Me: Have you noticed whether the ads that appear on HotMail are targeted to your demographic?

    Her: Oh, they don't register with me. I don't even notice them.

    Well, there you go. True story. Sorry, M$.

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