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Privacy The Almighty Buck

Users Know Advertisers Watch Them, and Hate It 243

Posted by kdawson
from the someone-to-watch-over-me dept.
Chris Blanc tips an Ars writeup on a survey of consumer attitudes toward targeted advertising. The results of the survey, conducted for TRUSTe, confirm that advertisers are in a tough spot. "[The survey company] randomly selected 1,015 nationally representative adults... Although only 40 percent of the group was familiar with the term 'behavioral targeting,' most users were well aware of the practice. 57 percent reported that they weren't comfortable their activities [were being] tracked for advertising purposes, even if the information couldn't be tied to their names or real-life identities. Simultaneously, 72 percent of those surveyed said that they find online advertising annoying when the ads are not relevant to their needs..."
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Users Know Advertisers Watch Them, and Hate It

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  • Big deal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @12:55AM (#22937840)
    I'm not sure exactly ... what privacy we are supposed to expect online. We're essentially driving on open roads while surfing the net, right... sending packets over open wires or open air. As long as it isn't malicious and isn't gathering actual personal information, I'm not sure this is unexpected or even a problem; no different than checking to see what kind of people shop at certain stores or malls to see what to put on the billboard...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      And what kind of privacy do we expect when we use the postal system? I mean we're basically sending packets of information over open lines. Maybe I'm odd but I really don't like the idea of my behavior being used to try and sell me things. When I do buy things online I make it a point to not use any kind of targeted advertisements to reach the sellers. The billboard analogy doesn't really hold water since it's not targeted, and is much less intrusive and potentially misleading than most online adverts.
      • Re:Big deal? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:25AM (#22937938)

        But isn't the advertising to some extent what keeps some websites afloat? Even some services?

        As for billboards being less intrusive, that depends on the billboard and where it is, and how often you happen to visit wherever it is...

        And as for the postal systems, that is a federal system and it is illegal to open someone else's mail. I'm not sure the same applies to online transactions, depending on how it is sent. If you shout across the room, don't sue me for listening if I'm in the room...

        • Re:Big deal? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by number11 (129686) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:20AM (#22938146)
          isn't the advertising to some extent what keeps some websites afloat?

          Perhaps. What's that got to do with liking it? Proctoscopy may make me live longer, but that doesn't make me enthusiastic about having a proctoscope jammed up my butt.

          As for billboards being less intrusive, that depends on the billboard and where it is, and how often you happen to visit wherever it is.

          True. And not all advertising is obnoxious. Just advertising that is ugly, poorly designed, gaudy, moves on my screen, takes up space on my screen to the detriment of the page, makes the page load slower, or is for things I'm not interested in at the moment. So that includes about 75% of the advertising I see on websites ("ads that I see" does not include anything using Flash or most popups). Most of the other 25% is Google's ads, which aren't too obtrusive yet. If I'm shopping, I might even click on them.

          TFA says that consumers want to see more relevant ads. It is very important to note that "more" modifies the word "relevant", not the word "ads".
          • Even though this analogy is gross it makes a great point. People hate ads, so its up to the marketing companies to try and create ads that are less intrusive and more relevant. If the marketing companies know this, then they should try some new methods of advertising besides the method they are currently using.
          • Re:Big deal? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:09AM (#22939578)

            And not all advertising is obnoxious.

            I disagree. The point of advertising is to get me to want something I don't need (because if I needed it, I could not wait around for an advertiser to "educate me about his valuable product/service"). That is, by definition, a waste of my time.

            When I do want to buy something, I go looking for it. To find what I want, I use a wonderful invention called the Yellow Pages, and if I want to get high-tech then there's Google. These are more than adequate for me to find what I want without much effort. When I don't want to buy something, I think it's reasonable to ask the sellers to stay out of my face.

            • Re:Big deal? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by arb phd slp (1144717) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:27AM (#22939734) Homepage Journal

              The point of advertising is to get me to want something I don't need (because if I needed it, I could not wait around for an advertiser to "educate me about his valuable product/service"). That is, by definition, a waste of my time. When I do want to buy something, I go looking for it. To find what I want, I use a wonderful invention called the Yellow Pages, and if I want to get high-tech then there's Google. These are more than adequate for me to find what I want without much effort. When I don't want to buy something, I think it's reasonable to ask the sellers to stay out of my face.
              Not all advertising is for wasteful consumer crap (it makes julienne fries!!! Apply directly to the forehead!). Quite a bit of advertising is for things that people need, but not right now. When the time comes that one does need a new car/mortgage/personal injury attorney/etc., the knowledge of where to get one is saturated in prior experiences. When we do go to Google or the Yellow Pages, we're drawn to the already familiar items and tune out those that are unfamiliar.

              It is still obnoxious, though.

            • Re:Big deal? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:44AM (#22939856)

              The point of advertising is to get me to want something I don't need (because if I needed it, I could not wait around for an advertiser to "educate me about his valuable product/service"). That is, by definition, a waste of my time.


              Man, if I had mod points, and I could mod you up with all of them at once, I would.

              MOST INTELLIGENT AND INSIGHTFUL POST EVER, EVER!

              Seriously. This is why I surf with Firefox using Adblock Plus, Flashblock, and No Script. I HATE HATE HATE ads! I don't care what you are selling, don't care how great it is, and I do NOT want your ad in my face. I know what I want, and can go find it myself, I do not need some marketing guru shoving crap in my face all day long. Heck, I even mute the T.V. during commercials! The only exceptions I make to this are the particularly clever and funny commercials that are entertaining in their own right. Of which there are vanishingly few.

              Frankly I don't care that your website is "Ad supported". While I may enjoy your fine content, it's not my responsibility to create and support a good business model for you. That's YOUR job as the website operator. If you go away because your business model depended on me being assaulted by ads and I didn't see them so you made no money and went under, then fine. There are THOUSANDS of other people out there that are just as good as you and just as smart as you, with just as much opportunity as you that will replace you and your website in a heartbeat. To be blunt, neither you nor your website is really all that important to me. Certainly not so important that I would choose to inconvenience myself by being forced to look at annoying ads. Keep in mind that as far as I am concerned, 100% of ads are annoying. If there is an ad it is annoying SIMPLY BY EXISTING. There is no such thing as a "targeted ad" in my universe, unless the ad is targeted for deletion.

              So there you have it. Find another way website owners, or go the way of the dodo. Either way, I won't be looking at your ads.
            • Re:Big deal? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by coastwalker (307620) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [reklawtsaoca]> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:47AM (#22939884) Homepage
              100% agree. Its not a constitutional right for businesses to try and brainwash me with messages of fear and loathing. Advertising is responsible for lots of evil - try buying cars based on their environmental impact or fuel consumption, you cant. All cars are sold based on whether they kill your children or whether they improve your social status/chance of procreating. So there isn't any data available on anything else. In the end society starts to evaluate everything based on lowest common denominator psychology, the advertising industry is not a good institution. On the whole we would be better off without most of it. See you in Marlborough country.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by toddestan (632714)
              The point of advertising is to get me to want something I don't need (because if I needed it, I could not wait around for an advertiser to "educate me about his valuable product/service"). That is, by definition, a waste of my time.

              That's not always the case, because you have to know that something, or at least surmise that it might exist before you go seek it out. The iPod is a good example - it was a new type of product that the market was ready for (a portable MP3 player), but without Apple's advertisin
        • Re:Big deal? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:18AM (#22939650) Journal
          As for billboards being less intrusive, that depends on the billboard and where it is, and how often you happen to visit wherever it is

          People are lately talking more and more about "distracted driving" laws. No cell phones allowed, no changing the radio station, no lighting your cigar, etc.

          If distracted drivers are such a problem, then why are people allowed to put up those damned blinking flashing signs? They're FAR more distracting than answering the phone. I hate online ads that do that but at least online ads won't kill me. The flashing sign at the McDonald's at sixth and south grand just may.

          Advertisers are shooting themselves in the foot, targeted ads or not. I'm not just annoyed with advertisers that aren't advertising what I might be interested in buying, I'm just as annoyed with advertising for stuff I want - if the ad itself is annoying.

          If I'm shopping for a laptop and Dell has a splash page at slashdot (for instance) making me click past the God damned thing to get to the site, I'm more inclined to buy a Gateway YOU HEAR ME, MIKE?). If Burger King has a blinkey flashey ad at the newspaper site I'm more inclined to go to McDonald's.

          Rewarding obnoxious behavior is stupid and I refuse to do it. I also refuse to use those incentive cards at the grocery store. "Do you have a MAX card?" the cashier asks. "No" I reply, "I don't like being STALKED by a God damned corporation!"
      • "And what kind of privacy do we expect when we use the postal system?"

        Post some white powder and they will kick your back door down and drag you out of the bath tub.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      but it is personal, and it's unwanted.
    • I'm not sure exactly ... what privacy we are supposed to expect online... [snip] sending packets over open wires or open air.

      Yeah, this is pretty ridiculous. At the very minimum, all wireless routers should support some standard VPN which is nearly unbreakable, web traffic should be encrypted, and addresses and DNS lookups should be encrypted as well (perhaps using one way hash functions or the like). It annoys me that individuals other than the computer I'm communicating with know that the communicatio

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CSMatt (1175471)
        Well it's really a twofold problem. No one is going to implement encryption and digital signatures by default if no one requests it, and most people either don't know or don't care that 95% of all their Internet traffic is transmitted in the clear. I've seen plenty of people stupidly logging into their Facebook accounts and sending instant messages over unencrypted public Wi-Fi connections.

        We don't need IPv6 to do this. We just need to get more people to start using current technologies like OTR and PGP
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tsa (15680)
          And why is that stupid? It all depends on what messages you type and what is on your Facebook page. and the Facebook account is public anyway, encryption or not, everybody can see your page.
          • by CSMatt (1175471)
            Umm, no. You can have privacy controls set so that no one but your friends see your profile, and you have to sign up for Facebook just to see any profiles at all. I'll admit it's not really security, but it certainly isn't the same as a public MySpace page where literally anyone can see it.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:15AM (#22938322) Journal
      Well, the big deal is that

      1. people change their behaviour when they think they're watched. Doubly so when it's recorded and they're not even sure when it'll be used, how, and in which way it'll bite them in the arse.

      My favourite example is about the USSR. Everyone knows the brutality of Stalin's NKVD and about the Gulag, but that got toned down a lot after Stalin. Mostly because it was cheaper and more effective to just give people the impression that everything they say or do goes into some dossier, and they have no idea when it'll be used against them or how. Maybe it'll be the GULAG, but maybe they'll never travel abroad again, or maybe their kid won't ever get a promotion because of what their father said, or God knows what else. Or maybe nothing will ever happen, but there's no way to know.

      That uncertainty is actually scarier than immediate repression. It removes the feedback. With Stalin's NKVD, you could know pretty soon whether they have anything against you or not. With something that might, or might not happen, and might take a decade or two to, you just don't know.

      The bigger effect is that it made people distrust each other, and thus unlikely to get organized. If comrade Piotr swears at the Party, how do you know if he isn't some agent provocateur trying to get you to say something you'll regret. And even if he isn't, do you want it on your record that you hang out with a disgruntled enemy of the people? Best avoid going drinking with Piotr in the future.

      Of course, you could point out, that was only because Big Brother there had not only ears, but also an arm with a whip and an inclination to use it. Well one way or another disincentives exist just as well in a free society, and in the West we're all the more eager to accept them if they're wielded by the private industry instead of the state.

      E.g., just like in Soviet Russia you might have feared that you'll never get a well paid job if you have on your record that you're a maladjusted malcontent, the exact same can happen in the west too, in a world where employers routinely google their employees. Even if your current boss doesn't mind it, how do you know if the next job interview doesn't get influenced by something you said or did?

      E.g., to get to more mundane western worries, if you're, say, in a particularly bigotted town in the Bible Belt, do you want your next employer to know that you're surfing for gay porn? Most people even if they're not particularly secretive about either being gay or surfing for porn, don't wear "I download gay porn" on a badge at a job interview either.

      This whole data collection, and the possibility that it'll get leaked, sold to the highest bidder, or just given as a "gift to the community" like the infamous AOL search data, is enough to make a lot of people think twice about what they do. Even if it's not antisocial per se. Better not trip someone's sensitivities the wrong way, and all that.

      (And, yes, I know, maybe _you_ are brave and fearless and never give in, bla, bla, bla. The vast majority of others aren't. That's the problem.)

      It can enforce a degree of conformism that's outright scary.

      2. Data mining, especially the way Joe Sixpack doesn't even understand it, adds another layer of scariness to it all. You don't know over what inferences they'll get to you, or whether you'll be a bystander casualty of one.

      Basically the same as you wouldn't go into a black or jewish boss's office carrying some white supremacist magazine under your arm. Chances are the "pays to read that kind of thing => probably is a racist" inference won't help your career much. So even the real bigoted guys still wouldn't do it.

      Data mining promises to make the same kind of inferences from other more mundane things. That even much more innocent things could finger you as something you'd rather not proclaim yourself as, or even genuinely aren't.

      E.g., what if some data mining survey says that employees drinking Coca Cola are twice as loyal to the
      • by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @06:23AM (#22938870) Homepage Journal

        3. It also adds a level of stress. Most people aren't made to be 100% public.
        That's a western-oriented and maybe just a US-oriented comment.

        When I was living in Southern California and getting my first security clearance, scary men came around the neighborhood asking questions of the neighbors about me (as I was told later). None of them knew me, so much the better.

        The situation is much different in the Asian countries I've lived in. Different lifestyle, different culture and it takes some getting used to. After a time, I came to expect that everything I did was watched by someone and gossiped about, getting very twisted by the time it got to my wife at the time which caused a lot of problems.

        On a numeric basis, there are more people in the open glass communities in Asia than in the US (perhaps in Europe, I've never been there), where there is some expectation (and reality) of privacy in outdoor day to day activities.

        Sure, it adds stress to me, I was born and raised in California, but it doesn't seem to matter to most everyone else.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338)
          1. Actually, it's not just an Asian phenomenon. Western Europe too once had their own small villages, and their own village gossips, and their own self-elected pillars of the community making it their business to tell you how to think and what to do.

          I guess the best way to explain it, is via Adlai Stevenson's "A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular." For millenia, even in Western Europe and even early USA it wasn't. From Socrates being executed for making himself unpopular, through the witch
      • That was... (Score:3, Funny)

        by Foerstner (931398)
        The longest, most insightful, and least funny Soviet Russia joke I've ever seen on Slashdot.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        Maybe it'll be the GULAG, but maybe they'll never travel abroad again, or maybe their kid won't ever get a promotion because of what their father said

        Not just the USSR. McCarthyism [wikipedia.org] kept Americans from travelling abroad, or keeping their kids from even being employed. It killed Pete Seeger's [wikipedia.org] career, as well as many other artists, entertainers, as well as more normal run of the mill people.

        During the McCarthy era, Americans were as afraid of being called a "commie" as the commies were afraid their government
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      The results of this survey are: "people don't know what the hell they're talking about."

      Basically, it says they don't like ads that "track their behavior", even if they're not personally identifiable. Then they say they don't like ads that aren't relevant to them. How's the advertiser supposed to know what's relevant to them without tracking their behavior at all? I don't know how these questions were asked, but the answers make no damn sense. Either that, or people in the survey didn't spend more than 3 ne
  • Bottom line... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Divebus (860563) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @12:55AM (#22937844)
    Nobody likes advertising. Period.
    • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:03AM (#22937866) Journal
      Why worry about your period when you have more important stuff to think about?

      At Tampax we understand this and that's why our tampons are designed to suit your body and help you get on with life...
      • by Divebus (860563)
        Cue the goatse troll.
        • At Tampax we understand this and that's why our tampons are designed to suit your body and help you get on with life...
          Cue the goatse troll.
          This [mypapercrane.com] will fit just right.
    • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:11AM (#22937898)
      Advertising is fine.. "MARKETING" is what people dont like.

      advertising is merely publishing the existence of a product.

      marketing is the active, dogmatic, flagrant, imposition of a product to a particular target using the most invasive means possible within the boundaries of the law. An advertisement would be a poster for a revlon product in a department store. marketing would be the woman who blocks your path and burns your eyes out with a well placed blast of a perfume bottle.

      your typical toy marketing campaign is not about convincing you and your kid to get this toy.. it's about deliberately manipulating your kids into pissing you off until you pay them temper tantrum protection money.

      Slashdot's ads are actual advertising, while those seizure inducing flashers, popup windows, and fake system alerts are marketing.
      • by CSMatt (1175471) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:27AM (#22937946)
        That's marketing?

        I always called it "bullshitting."
      • by Divebus (860563)
        Marketing, to me, is a very subtle [like a charging rhinoceros] plan to raise one's awareness of a product in order to gain eventual acceptance through repetition. Product placement in movies is marketing. A big cuddly cartoon character who smokes is marketing. The stuff that makes network television unwatchable is advertising.
      • by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:42AM (#22938012)
        Sorry, you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

        True marketing deals with WHO buys WHAT. After that ADVERTISING takes over.

        The slashdot crowd may unilaterally hate "marketing", but thats because they don't understand what it truly does. It is ironic that most people here who hate marketing don't sign their own checks.

        Confusing B2C advertising methodologies with true marketing is ignorant. Apple is winning due to marketing, not advertising. Microsoft won due to Marketing, not advertising. Sony pwned for 2 iterations of gaming devices due to marketing, not advertising. Band-Aids, Toyota, Whole Foods, Glock, Clorox, Dyson, BMW, Jones Soda - these entities are winning due to marketing, not advertising.

        Marketing is an analysis of data....thats it. Those who choose to use tha data to advertise corruptly are the culprits.

        Get a clue.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by plasmacutter (901737)
          I'll let the other slashdotters eat you alive for accusing them of being deadbeat leeches on their spouses and/or families, but jones soda is not winning based on marketing OR advertising.

          jones soda is winning because they actually follow the equation P = MC. They don't skimp on their ingredients like the major bottling houses do, and they don't gouge like they do.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Irish_Samurai (224931)

            ones soda is winning because they actually follow the equation P = MC. They don't skimp on their ingredients like the major bottling houses do, and they don't gouge like they do.
            Thats called market analysis my friend.
          • by Moridineas (213502) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:03AM (#22938102) Journal

            I'll let the other slashdotters eat you alive for accusing them of being deadbeat leeches on their spouses and/or families, but jones soda is not winning based on marketing OR advertising.

            jones soda is winning because they actually follow the equation P = MC. They don't skimp on their ingredients like the major bottling houses do, and they don't gouge like they do.
            The fact that you know so much--and are so enthusiastic about jones soda (i think you just advertised for them)--shows how well their marketing is doing. You've bought into jones soda as an "alternative" to Big Soda. Marketing. Jones soda spends quite a lot of money on marketing!

            As the saying goes, sell the sizzle, not the steak. p=mc, ingredients, alternative to major bottling houses, not gouging--sizzle. You didn't say a single thing about the flavor! Seems very telling...
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by plasmacutter (901737)
              not true.

              I "bought into" a package of a particular flavor of jones soda because it tastes like a drink that's exceedingly expensive to import. (it's sold in the asian district for about 25 cents an OUNCE)

              the soda was 40 cents less a can than the pepsi products on the same aisle.

              nothing to do with marketing, it's called a competitive product -- something foreign to the US economy for a long time because the vast majority of producers who pull that "capitalism" crap are bought out and shut down by the incumbe
        • by Alphager (957739) <florian...haas@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:55AM (#22938070) Homepage Journal
          The people who get the data in the first place are as corrupt as the advertisers. Marketing still is pure manipulation. Apple is a fine example: They offer sub-par hardware (Iphone without 3G, Macbook without great colors...) with an alternative OS to incredible high prices. They use chinese sweatshop-labor, highly toxic chemicals and somehow still have a positive image. That is pure evil manipulation.
        • Band-Aids, Toyota, Whole Foods, Glock, Clorox, Dyson, BMW, Jones Soda

          Could it be that those products are winning because they have consistently high quality?
          Sure I suppose that some of that could fall under the heading of marketing, if marketing means knowing that people don't like shoddy design, planned obsolescence, or unnatural food additives. I suppose that making a connection between poor business practices that result in a boycott or lack of trust in your product would have to qualify as marketing
          • by yuna49 (905461)
            I'm guessing that the upper management of McDonalds doesn't eat there regularly and the Waltons don't shop at Wal-mart, those companies have bad reputations for quality.

            I spent a bit of time in the television industry in the early 80's. I was always amused by the fact that TV executives don't actually watch much television at all. If they were all forced to spend two or three hours a night for a month of two watching what they put out there, maybe we'd see some improvement in the quality of programming.
        • by nicklott (533496)

          It is ironic that most people here who hate marketing don't sign their own checks.
          That's what always makes me laugh. How do they think their employer gets the money to pay their wages? (those in academia and public service excepted of course)
        • by mike2R (721965)
          >It is ironic that most people here who hate marketing don't sign their own checks.

          So true.
      • "advertising is merely publishing the existence of a product"

        Uhm, there is NO clear demarcation between advertising and marketing. When someone from my bank calls me up about credit card offer X/Y/Z WITHOUT my persmission they have gone overboard and it's no longer advertising but STALKING for profit. No business should have the right to HARASS it's customers or "inform them" of things they DON'T want to be 'informed' about. I do online banking and they are free to advertise on their site but to CALL ME
      • by CBravo (35450)
        That's funny, I'm seeing a 'google-analytics.com' in my spam blocker... I'd say that is marketing.
      • by jandersen (462034)

        Advertising is fine.. "MARKETING" is what people dont like.

        Actually, no. Advertising is the useless crap that litters an otherwise well-functioning web (as well as just about every street, magazine and tv-channel) and turns what would have been an enjoyable journey into a noisy, uncomfortable run of the gauntlet in a desperate attempt to get to the information you are after. And that is why people hate it.

        I suspect most of us would mind it a lot less if we only saw adverts that were discreet and addressed our needs exactly; in fact, I think the best and probably m

      • While another poster already pointed out how wrong you are about advertising vs. marketing, this tidbit caught my attention:

        "Slashdot's ads are actual advertising, while those seizure inducing flashers, popup windows, and fake system alerts are marketing.

        In the past week or so I've three times clicked on a discussion link here only to be greeted by one of those full page ads with the 'Click here to skip' links at the top. I'd call that just about as annoying and intrusive as popups.

        I'm a capitalist and hav
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Danny Rathjens (8471)
      We like paying for things directly even less. This way we don't feel the pain of pulling our wallet out. It just increases the prices of everything we do buy by a bit.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        We?

        Only the incredibly stupid fool themselves into thinking that the stuff you get on credit is free. I would rather pay cash so I can see how much I've spent. I even got rid of my bank card so if I spend all my ready cash at the bar on a Saturday night, I'll go home and to bed instead of whipping out the plastic to buy drinks for that fox who was a dog four beers ago.
    • Re:Bottom line... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by trawg (308495) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:31AM (#22938182) Homepage
      I like advertising - it keeps websites like Slashdot free to use.

      I work for companies that are dependent on advertising to make revenue. I'd prefer to keep those websites free, and advertising is the best way to do this.

      I try not to be a hypocrite, so I don't block ads. If a website has horribly obtrusive ads, I simply stop visiting it, but I have pretty high tolerance for it now. I either tune them out or just deal with it, because the comparatively minor inconvenience is often well worth the benefit of having free access to content/services.
      • by esocid (946821)

        I work for companies that are dependent on advertising to make revenue. I'd prefer to keep those websites free, and advertising is the best way to do this.

        Since you appear to be in marketing, I'm surprised you aren't aware of the concept that people who do block ads aren't going to follow them anyway. Advertisers won't waste money advertising in places where people aren't interested in their service to begin with, which in my opinion helps them to not waste money. I will occasionally click on a random ad si

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by value_added (719364)
      Nobody likes advertising. Period.

      I'd like to agree with you, but I don't believe that's true.

      The reason why advertising exists and is prevalent as it is is that we, the great unwashed masses are happy to tolerate it, and obligingly participate in it, all with little or no thought. You could argue, for example, that the blight that exists on a city's buildings and infrastructure saves a few dollars for taxpayers, but hell, we've gotten to the point we erect building and monuments to the stuff. When we're n
    • by nicklott (533496)

      So why does everyone keep using it?

      If you don't advertise no-one knows about your product or service. How would you get your car fixed without advertising? Walk round randomly asking people until you find a mechanic? How would you know if he was screwing you without getting a price from a competitor? That's a second person you'd have to try and find by word of mouth. This may take a while.

      I'm afraid advertising is a fundamental part of any economy in which labour is divided. Except one in which the stat

    • by pzs (857406)
      Advertising is a typical example of something that provides economic benefit at the expense of the mental (spiritual?) well-being of the populous. Most adverts I see on TV use people's fears and insecurities to convince them to buy products they really don't need. The worst examples are cosmetics ("Because you're worth it!") and electronic goods (do you *really* need a 1080p TV? The latest fancy phone? You do, otherwise other people will laugh at you).

      Of course, these adverts stimulate spending and provide
  • Just Don't Look (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sterrance (1257342) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:06AM (#22937880)
    This Article reminded me of a Simpson's song. To stop those monsters 1-2-3, Here's a fresh new way that's trouble-free, It's got Paul Anka's guarantee... Lisa: Guarantee void in Tennessee. All: Just don't look! Just don't look! Just don't look! Just don't look! Just don't look! Just don't look! Seriously though I've stopped paying attention to ads altogether. Except for those amusing General Insurance ads where you play a car and avoid getting hit, those ads I fully support.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CSMatt (1175471)
      Or, you know, use Adblock Plus.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by JaBob (1194069)
        ...and while you're at it... check in every now and then what gets white-listed and wonder how much longer it's going to be effective for.
  • by enoz (1181117) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:10AM (#22937896)
    ...was the subject line that I expected after reading the summary.
  • Well, block them. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:19AM (#22937920)
    We all are smart (or many claim to be). We push Firefox and such software so we take control of the web.

    Every machine has a hosts file in which machines can be locally defined.

    So, lets take what we know and make ads gone.. maybe not all of them.. Lets start with the annoying ones first.

    First, get Firefox.
    Next, we gets some plugins:
    Adblock Plus
    NoScript
    NukeAnythingEnhanced
    Flashblock

    What, you dont like being watched? Now get TOR from tor.eff.org and install it, along with accompanying firefox plugin for proxy changing

    Set up TOR and now you have ad-free browsing, with optional anonymizing surfing when needed (for performance hit).
    • You're getting free content, it has to be paid for somehow. All you really need of those four is noscript For the bits where noscript overlaps with adblock, you really shouldn't be blocking, anyway.
      • You're getting free content, it has to be paid for somehow.

        Tell that to all those BBS sysops... [wikipedia.org] Just because they've convinced you that you have to pay in one form or another, doesn't mean that it is so.

      • Re:Well, block them. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:43AM (#22938014)
        What is the benefit for me viewing ads? Oh yeah, I "steal content".

        It is MY choice what images I load, what scripts I render, and what HTML code I accept. You have NO SAY.

        I have no qualms to disable ads any way I can, and I will show/set up ad killers so that my clients can surf safer and distraction free.

        My setup does not block text ads... You want a way to our eyeballs, make ads like Kuro5hin.org . I recently bought a VPS because of an NON-obtrusive ad I viewed there.
      • by MrMr (219533)
        I'm not getting free content. The content is paid for in the form of compulsory advertisement tax on the products I buy.
        If a company also wants my attention for one of their product ads they should pay me, and not the advertising agency.
    • Re:Well, block them. (Score:4, Informative)

      by DrEldarion (114072) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:35AM (#22937980)
      You do realize that blocking the easy-to-block ads will just make them create more annoying ones, right? (see: interstitials)

      Anyway, if you don't like ads, don't use ad-supported sites. It's that simple. If you like the site, leave the ads on and support the creator. Don't be childish about it.
      • Yeah, it could encourage creation of more javascript and flash hackery to display ads. As an example (which I am NOT linking to) is the GNAA's Last Measure, in which images of fecaljapan, lemonparty, goatse, penisbird rapidly pop up and move around the screen to prevent closing them. Even though this is a shock site, it represents the hack attempts by advertisers.

        They should be rightfully ignored and blocked.

        Instead, text ads are not blocked. Google proved that one, as that is what they use.
      • You do realize that blocking the easy-to-block ads will just make them create more annoying ones, right? (see: interstitials)
        That's why God invented Greasemonkey. If there's an interstitial ad out there, there's probably a Greasemonkey script to bypass it.

    • by CSMatt (1175471)
      Tor exit nodes can still harvest your information.
      • The same could be said about your ISP.. Or their ISP.. Or their ISP..

        Unless each point is using some sort of encryption along with authentication, data capture at an exit node can happen anywhere.

    • by Temporal (96070) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:01AM (#22938090) Journal
      Of course, note that by using TOR, you are essentially telling every web site you visit: "I am a user who is excessively concerned with privacy and knows how to anonymize himself. Statistically speaking, I am probably (though not certainly) college-age, computer-savvy, geeky, single, and male. Effective ads for me are likely to include ads for dating services, computer hardware, nifty gadgets, video games, and Ron Paul." Normally, advertisers would have to do a ton of tracking and data mining to determine these things, but you're just telling them right off the bat.

      Just saying.
      • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:40AM (#22938206)

        you are essentially telling every web site you visit: "I am a user who is excessively concerned with privacy and knows how to anonymize himself. Statistically speaking, I am probably (though not certainly) college-age, computer-savvy, geeky, single, and male. Effective ads for me are likely to include ads for dating services, computer hardware, nifty gadgets, video games, and Ron Paul."


        or.. "I am a user who is excessively concerned with privacy and knows how to anonymize himself. Statistically speaking, I am probably (though not certainly) a reactionary paramilitary survivalist cult member. Effective ads for me are likely to include ads for weapons, military surplus, canned goods, religious iconography, industrial grade generators, and DIY bomb shelters."
        • I would freaking love to see those kind of ads, I would have to hover the floor more often tho, as I would be constantly ROFLing.
      • [...]you are essentially telling every web site you visit: "I am a user who is excessively concerned with privacy and knows how to anonymize himself. Statistically speaking, I am probably (though not certainly) college-age, computer-savvy, geeky, single, and male. Effective ads for me are likely to include ads for dating services, computer hardware, nifty gadgets[...]
        Wow! That's just eerie. Guess what number I'm thinking of and my favorite distro...
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:22AM (#22937932) Homepage

    TrustE is more of an apologist than a regulator. TrustE stopped being serious about privacy in 1997, when they "simplified" their seal program. [news.com] A TrustE seal doesn't mean that any standard has been met. All it means now is that the company claims to comply with their own privacy statement, whatever it says. That's it.

    Even worse, a site with a TrustE seal is more likely to have badware than one without a seal. [benedelman.org]

    TrustE has revoked only two certificates in its ten year history.

  • Let's see (Score:4, Interesting)

    by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:27AM (#22937944)
    There are no positive articles on the topic of "behavioral targeting" because of how hard privacy activists try to publicize their views, and like "death tax", this is a case where the phrase itself is used to push an agenda. No one wants their "behavior targeted". So for the people who know and use the term "behavioral targeting", we can already assume they have a predisposition on the topic a bit. If instead we use "relevant advertising" to refer to the same technique, surely this will effect the way it is perceived.

    With that said, I don't see how harmful this can be. Browsers do a good job of protecting us from the worst case scenarios, and web sites have a hard time implementing this effectively anyway. The sites best at this are those with real information, like amazon or ebay that have your info and can track what you do. But again, you are on their turf, so its kinda like complaining about being watched by security cameras at Best Buy, or about the membership card that tracks everything you buy at CVS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CSMatt (1175471)
      Great. Now I have to wear a mask and forgo my discount every time I go shopping just to secure my privacy.
  • by CSMatt (1175471) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:37AM (#22937988)
    Hey! You!

    BUY STUFF!!!
  • by isellmacs (661604) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:38AM (#22937990)
    "TRUSTe notes that this attitude presents a conundrum for advertisers, who are simultaneously being told that consumers want to see more relevant ads but don't want to have their activities tracked in order to make those ads relevant."


    I don't get that at all from these numbers; personal experience tells me that people don't want to see ads. Relevent ads aren't as bad, and some can be useful, but most just don't want to see ads.

    The fact of the matter is that it is the advertisers themselves who want us to see their ads, not the other way around. To do this, they add stuff to their advertisements in order to make you pay attention to them.

    People who pay attention to advertisements/commericals are the product to be sold, the advertisers are the real customer, and the content, whether it be magazine, movie, game etc is just the bait to lure us into the 'snare' and pay attention to the advertisement.

    When people WANT to view an advertisement, we'll look for a product then. Building brand awareness beforehand might be effective, but that doesn't mean we enjoy being conditioned in such a manner. If we could have the carrot without risking the snare, we would totally take that. When we want the snare, we'll let you know.

    • by squidfood (149212) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @03:11AM (#22938314)

      When people WANT to view an advertisement, we'll look for a product then.

      ThinkGeek proves you wrong... I didn't know I wanted *half* that stuff! Seriously, targeting a specialist *site* works wonders, while targeting an individual is annoying. It's old technique though; for example, in specialist-enough niche (print) magazines for hobbyists, the ads are actually quite often interesting and useful to their audience.

    • I don't get that at all from these numbers; personal experience tells me that people don't want to see ads. Relevent ads aren't as bad, and some can be useful, but most just don't want to see ads.

      True, relevant ads are not as bad, as they waste your time less, as you might actually be interested in them.

      But that is only true as long as there is no danger of somebody who know watching over your shoulder. If there is, relevant ads can lead to highly embarrassing situations...

  • by InlawBiker (1124825) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @01:41AM (#22938004)
    Am I the only one? I see it like this - I get content for free. Somebody has to pay those people to create, host and maintain that content. I know the ads are not going away. So long as the ads are there I prefer them to be relevant to my needs. So sure, track away. I'd rather see ads for things I'm interested in than things I'm not. They don't know my name or where I live so no harm done. If ads are too pushy or distracting from the content I'll use another site This is one of the reasons Google won the search engine war - their ads are not annoying and they work for the people trying to sell us stuff.
    • by snl2587 (1177409)

      If ads are too pushy or distracting from the content I'll use another site

      And in the meantime I use AdBlock Plus. No ad, no problem.

      I know advertisers and site admins probably hate that, but I hate the fact that no one seems to know how to display ads in a way that is unobtrusive and effective.

  • "Users Know Advertisers Watch Them, and Hate It" ... just not enough to do anything about it.

    It turns out that users like free/cheap stuff a lot more than they hate advertising or "behavioral targeting." People clicking on ads is a big part of the reason why we don't have to pay anything for Slashdot.

    Don't you just hate that?
  • by feepness (543479)
    Given a targeted ad or a non-targeted ad, I would prefer the targeted.

    Yes, sometimes it is irritating when I see an advertisement that I know is hitting my demographic exactly and pushing my buttons. But a few times I have disregarded it and been sorry I did because I would have wanted the service/item at a critical time.

    Overall, I'd rather see ads for computer equipment than scuba gear. The latter is a total waste of my time, the former keeps me up on prices and features of stuff I buy all the time.
    • Given a targeted or untargeted ad I prefer neither ... ...Ads targeted to my demographic aren't targeted at me just people like me - but I am not a demographic

      The classic ones are the "in your area" targeted ads, where they pick up on my IP address, which is registered to my ISP, who are based 150 miles away from me, so are totally irrelevant ....

      • by feepness (543479)
        I also prefer neither, but that isn't what this is article is about.

        Selling you a weekend getaway that is 150 miles away is better than trying to sell you one 1500 miles away.

        Also, if your ISP can't narrow its customer's locations down by zipcode, then they get a big bucket of fail served at room temperature anyways.
  • 57 percent reported that they weren't comfortable their activities tracked for advertising purposes, even if the information couldn't be tied to their names or real-life identities.

    I wonder what question they actually asked (no link in TFA). If the summary accurately reflects the question, then what would we expect? "Are you comfortable that your web browsing, email and purchases are tracked for advertising purposes, even if the information can't be tied to your name or real-life identity?" I'm surpris

  • Well, given what they post: " 57 percent reported that they weren't comfortable their activities [were being] tracked for advertising purposes...72 percent of those surveyed said that they find online advertising annoying when the ads are not relevant to their needs"

    Ok, so the consumer wants add targeted to their behavior without tracking it?. Therein is one of the problems - the vast majority of users don't really know what they want - or I guess a better description is that they want something that can no
  • Google Love Affair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @07:28AM (#22939076)
    I don't understand the general acceptance of Google in the slashdot community (some verging on the edge of fanboism--a term I don't use loosely) when Google's primary business is to generate targeted advertising. Which is it? We hate targeted advertising or we love Google?
    • by solios (53048) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @07:46AM (#22939150) Homepage
      Google and Apple are both much-much loved by slashdotters. Apple makes sexy kit that (for the most part) works very well. Google makes a search engines (and other software) that (for the most part) works very well. In a world dominated by shitty computers that don't work very well loaded with operating systems that don't work very well, products that Suck Less are going to get noticed. It "helps" that Apple has a Geek Chic image, and that Google employees have extensively evangelized what an incredibly AWESUM place Google is to work.

      Yay.

      At the of the day, Apple charges lamorghini prices for chevette parts in cadillac boxes* and Google promises "don't be evil" while collecting and tracking data at a volume that probably makes the NSA green with envy. I personally find this to be irritating (on the part of apple) and heinously evil shit (on the part of google), but both companies are Best Of Breed, and as long as their products Suck Less than everything else on the market, they'll be loved by the slashdot crowd - and any questionable activity will be rationalized or ignored by the fanbase.

      * Yes, an equivalent PC that has every last one of the features a Mac packs will cost more. But I can upgrade the video card on a 400$ Dell. The entry level for upgradeable video in the Apple world is currently 2,799$, and the starting point for a useable (non-intel) video chipset (non-upgradeable) is currently ~1,200$. Oh, and the Intel minis cost more than the PPC minis did, with arguably worse video. Mention any of this in an Apple thread and you'll be modded troll or flamebait.
      • I think this is because every company is going to do what the Goog' and Apple do; Hardware is going to be expensive, and a data company is going to mine data. The difference is that unlike other companies, they actually deliver a product that is worth the cost. I can't stand it when a sub-par company wastes my time and energy, and their product sucks, big time ! I understand that Apple's hardware costs more and is probably somewhat inflated, but, at the end of the day, I'm not screwing around. I want th
    • Count me as an exception.

      I didn't like the cookie valid until 2038 back when I found about it, didn't get what's that great about gmail and still don't (I like kmail much better), am not interested in the slightest in using their office applications, and Google's merging with doubleclick didn't improve things either. Doubleclick used to have a quite bad reputation on slashdot some years ago, btw.

      One of these days I'm going to figure out how to make google go through tor.

      And since other posters mentioned it,
  • by downix (84795) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @08:51AM (#22939470) Homepage
    The issue comes at having their cake and eating it too. I used to work for an online magazine company [mixedmarti...onthly.com] which does not charge our customers for access to content, as people don't pay for online content for the most part. So, we had to turn to advertising to try and keep us in the black. The issue comes, how do you turn a profit if advertising is unwanted, save through underhanded methods like data selling. So, what alternatives are there, if the subscription system doesn't work and customers don't wish for advertising?
  • A couple of facts here:
    1. You are being manipulated.
    2. The degree to which you're aware of this fact determines your ability to choose.

    Persuasion is nothing new or necessarily evil. We tend to modify our own environment for our own benefit. That environment often contains people.

    Unless you're planning to take action to change the situation, crying about it is a waste of time. If you don't like it, do something about it. Learn to recongize other people trying to get you to do what they want. Use the k

  • False dichotomy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yuna49 (905461) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:26AM (#22939722)
    From TFA:
    TRUSTe notes that this attitude presents a conundrum for advertisers, who are simultaneously being told that consumers want to see more relevant ads but don't want to have their activities tracked in order to make those ads relevant.

    Until the web gave advertisers the ability to track individuals (even if anonymously), the standard way of making advertising relevant to consumers was to advertise in media that reach your target audience. Magazines have sold themselves to advertisers for decades by offering the ability to reach tiny slices of the population collected together by shared interests. What advertisers now want is the ability to target you, not "18-29 yo males with an interest in technology."

    You can continue to make advertising relevant by placing the ads where the target audience is likely to be found. You don't need to track me to preserve relevance.

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