Whether or not Facebook kills its much-derided Beacon program, the controversy surrounding intrusive marketing surveillance deserves to flourish.
You remember the old story about the frog placed in a pot of water that was slowly heated up, until it was cooked? When I read the about Facebook's reaction to the anti-Beacon protests, my first impression is that Facebook's concessions are essentially along the lines of, "OK, we turned up the heat a bit too much on this one, so we'll turn it back down a little bit--for now." Are marketers counting on the fact that we'll get used to the warm bath, then the hot tub, calibrating their fine-tuned ability to stop just short of the lobster pot?
CNN.com contributes a story, "Ad targeting improves as Web sites track consumer habits," which covers the Facebook issue among other case studies. Marketers are studying the sensitivity level of consumers to intrusive advertising and adjusting their programs accordingly. For example, CNN.com reports, "Most Web sites and marketers have been shunning the ultimate targeting--ads that greet you by name. Yahoo could easily do that using registration information, but 'I'm not sure people would like that or not,' said Richard Frankel, Yahoo's senior director of product marketing."
The CNN story continues:
"Users' comfort with data profiling has indeed shifted over the years. Google faced criticism when it introduced an e-mail service that paired ads with the words inside private messages. Millions of people now use Gmail with scarcely a blink.
Users will eventually embrace the latest tactics, too--and by then, they'll complain about even deeper levels of intimacy yet to be invented, said Tracy Ryan, professor of advertising research at Virginia Commonwealth University
'You want to have enough targeting that a consumer notices the message and pays attention, but you don't want it to be so obvious that they are thinking (there) is targeting,' she said. 'That would be scary.'"… Read more