Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Businesses Your Rights Online

AT&T Sends Mixed Message On Behavioral Advertising 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the reach-out-and-shush-someone dept.
Ian Lamont writes "An advertising company that runs a 'targeting marketplace' and partner AT&T are playing down the telecommunications giant's use of its services after AT&T's chief privacy officer told a House subcommittee yesterday that the company does not engage in behavioral advertising. The AT&T executive testified (PDF) to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet that AT&T would not use behavioral advertising methods without informed customer consent. However, AudienceScience, a company that records 'billions of behavioral events daily' has apparently worked for AT&T since 2005. After the hearing, AudienceScience removed a client testimonial relating to AT&T from its website, so 'all the appropriate parties [have] consistent messaging,' its CEO said. An AT&T spokesman also said that the testimony was talking about AT&T's role as an ISP, not an advertiser."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AT&T Sends Mixed Message On Behavioral Advertising

Comments Filter:
  • by kris_lang (466170) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:32PM (#27708167)

    In the past, L.L. Bean and American Express all experimented with greeting customers by name when they called. They did this by linking the ANI information received on their incoming 1-800-telephonenumber line with a computerized database. People were creeped out to have a person greet them by their name before they'd even said "Hello", and both American Express and L.L. Bean stopped doing this. Affinity marketing campaigns also did this and the FTC regulated this away, partially.

    link to ftc pdf, [ftc.gov] see page 42 and other.

    What ATT is trying to hide about what they've already done is steps beyond this.

    kris

  • by al0ha (1262684) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:39PM (#27708231) Journal
    All of this is such a non issue. SSH tunnel your HTTP and use NoScript to keep third party tracking cookies from loading.
  • What next? Ad's beamed into my dreams?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Almonday (564768) *
      Only on TV and radio... and in magazines... and movies, and at ballgames, and on buses, and milk cartons, and T-shirts, and bananas, and written in the sky. But not in dreams, no sirree.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:46PM (#27708297) Journal
      Why do you think that telcoms are bidding so enthusiastically for the 10^19hz spectrum allocation?
    • by gaderael (1081429)

      Teacher: Good morning, class. I trust you've all prepared for today's final exam.
      Fry: Uh, excuse me? I missed a few lectures. Uh, what subject is this?
      Teacher: Ancient Egyptian algebra.
      [She points to the blackboard, revealing it is filled with Egyptian hieroglyphs. Fry gasps.]
      Fry: What a nightmare!
      Teacher: Mister Fry, are those your underpants? [Fry looks down and sees he is wearing only his briefs. He stands up and the whole class laughs and points. He gasps.] Young man, I think it's time you learned a les

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:46PM (#27708299) Homepage Journal

    What is "Mixed Message" supposed to mean? When testifying to Congress, witnesses are required by law to tell the truth. Saying you don't do something when you do is lying.

    I understand that Congress does whatever AT&T wants (wiretapping is power), calls whatever AT&T does whatever AT&T wants. But since when did Slashdot become corporate mass media, afraid to call lying "lying"?

    • by Kelson (129150) *

      Apparently it's the Industry Standard term...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What is "Mixed Message" supposed to mean? When testifying to Congress, witnesses are required by law to tell the truth. Saying you don't do something when you do is lying.

      Actually if you're under oath isn't it actually called perjury?

    • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:12PM (#27708813) Homepage

      But since when did Slashdot become corporate mass media, afraid to call lying "lying"?

      Corporations owe no allegiance to the truth but sometimes the interesting question is why they're lying. And why are they so anxious to erase their tracks? Liability or regulation...they're not worried about competition. The US market in telecommunications isn't a free market, it's a cartel.

      Figure out what they're afraid you'll know why they're lying. Like the oil companies. They're keeping up the PR assault to try and distract people from the fact they're throttling domestic oil production in the face of lower prices. No point extracting expensive oil at $47 a barrel when they can still make a margin buying from the Saudis. So waive the flag to distract from the uncomfortable reality that big oil is willing to let our national security suffer if they can make a margin on the status quo. And air those slick commercials with the PR gal telling us how they're doing so much for domestic exploration.

      That's just being sleazy and two-faced. What AT&T is displaying is fear. They're afraid of something. This isn't a PR embarrassment, there's liability, serious liability. Hand in the cookie jar, massive regulation kind of liability. Maybe they were using non-identifiable data aggregates from the wiretaps as a marketing tool? It'll be something like that.

      It's always sparks my curiosity to discover what's in a hole someone is anxious to fill in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rts008 (812749)

        While you may have more at stake here, I agree with your overall concept, but not as vehemently as you.

        What I will say is this:
        ATT+marketing/advertising==up to their ears...at least that deep. Period. Really.

        Any telecom, not just ATT that would deny something like this, I would automatically be suspicious of what they are saying. Sorry, but 'track records', and all that....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)

        You're right about corporate lying. That's why US oil corps flood the info markets (like news) with lies about domestic oil production.

        The amount of remaining US reserves that could be tapped is very small. Opening it up would put new oil on the market starting at earliest 10 years from now, and probably 20 before a significant fraction of its total contribution. Its contribution would last maybe another 10-20 years. The tiny new US amount in the global supply would not affect prices by more than a cent or

    • by Jack9 (11421)

      Most behavioral targeting campaigns (online) are pure BS. You get at BEST an 90% miss rate (meaning you can't determine anything of use) from a behavioral perspective. Other metrics are much more reliable. Contextual (where people have visited), Geo (where their IP resolves near), and frequency of various acts/visits. Lots of companies do this. In particular, in online advertising it's assumed to happen. A lot of companies claim to do "behavioral targeting" but can't prove or even technically describe how t

  • by Pahalial (580781) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:25PM (#27708545)
    We don't have all the info yet. All we know so far is that AT&T is a client of "MEC Interaction" and that this company has then used Audience Science. There's no way to know for sure yet that they were placing ads based on DPI, or giving info about their customers' browsing habits - it is every single bit as probable that their advertising firm merely placed ads with the behavioral-based advertising network.

    Now, there's still a slight disconnect between her testimony (which lambasts behavioral advertising as a whole) and the company contracting Audience Science via a third party, but it's extremely possible that this is being interpreted in the worst possible light [to sell pageviews?] Grain of salt, people.
    • by Kelson (129150) *

      We don't have all the info yet.

      Pshaw! This is the Internet! Why should that stop us from passing judgment!

  • After the hearing, AudienceScience removed a client testimonial relating to AT&T from its website, so 'all the appropriate parties [have] consistent messaging,' its CEO said.

    read 'So the lie becomes the truth'.

    • Well, just check with the 'Ministry of Truth'...

      Or, as we all know, "The cake is a lie."

      Is this a good place for a 'In Sovie)(&)(*&)&%&E%

  • without the name? It looks like exactly the same thing a few british ISPs are trying to implement at the moment - and the EU court of human rights is getting involved in that one.
  • Somebody had to clean their underwear. Is the testimonial still in google cache? If so some people should print it out and mail it to all congressmen at present for the testimony.
  • An AT&T spokesman also said that the testimony was talking about AT&T's role as an ISP, not an advertiser."

    Oh, well then, I feel much better now. NOT.

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum." --Arthur C. Clarke

Working...