The new model of Internet advertising scares the heck out of us. It's called behavioral targeting. What that amounts to, in a nutshell, is following you around the web from site to site recording your movements and using that record to sell you personalized ads. All those ads that pop up on the side of articles on your favorite websites like ESPN.com or NYTimes.com are often not provided by those sites, they are from third parties that you've never heard of, with names like Lotame Solutions Inc. Using a variety of techniques, those companies are tracking where you go throughout the web.
Some advertisers like this because they can charge a premium for this personalization. For example, when someone visits an automotive website, knowing his or her income level allows the advertiser will know whether to highlight a Subaru or a Range Rover. According to one online advertising CEO's statement "[m]oving from site-targeting to people-targeting is the central dynamic of the industry". But the inevitable byproduct of all of this tracking is the creation of an extremely detailed profile on all of us — what we read, what we do and where we go online. And this information is not anonymous. Using clues — from pages we log into or visits to our profiles on social networking sites — we reveal our identity.
Worst of all, these online profiles do not stay with the advertisers. They are merged with "offline content," namely the information that advertisers, background check companies and data aggregators have been collecting on us for years. All of these companies have contracts with employers and the government. One company boasts it's "the silent partner to municipal, county, state, and federal justice agencies who access our databases every day to locate subjects, develop background information, secure information from a cellular or unlisted number, and much more."I really think people are not taking this seriously enough. If I am right (I would love to be wrong), in about four or five years, people are going to be outraged over what has taken place.
Last night Parks and Recreation aired on NBC (and is now up at Hulu -- which is where my link goes, the Parks and Recreation page at Hulu). Leslie had the flu. The whole town was getting it. She was sick but the episode underscored how she really is suited for her job because she had to give a really important speech and she was so out of it but managed to rise to the moment.
My only problem -- the whole episode was great -- is Rob Lowe. I think his character is interesting but he is (thus far) just to out there for Ann. If he were going after Leslie, you could enjoy the ride because Leslie has a nutty side to her. But Ann is just not that way and, for me, it is uncomfortable to watch her like a man who refers to himself as a microchip (among other things).
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today: