Is there any way to escape the scourge that is behavioural targeting — publishers that watch what Web visitors are doing, and pitch them ads based on what they do online?
Sure there is. Just go about your business — there’s just not that much of the stuff on the Web today. Despite attention from Congress and the press, two privacy bills in the New York state legislature and flurry of lobbying activity, this is a tiny market. EMarketer estimates that a mere $775 million will be spent on behavioural ads this year — about 3% of the $26 or so billion that will be spent on online advertising in 2008.
The promise of behavioural targeting of advertising, we’re told, is huge. So why aren’t more dollars being spent? Part of it is bad technology, but the more significant issue is squeamishness on the part of brand advertisers. Charter’s deal with data firm NebuAd is red meat to the privacy advocates and subject of a Senate hearing next week.
Ultimately, eMarketer believes, the hubbub will die down, Congress and privacy advocates will find something else to do and Madison Avenue will overcome its own fear of the issue. But it will take a few years. The research firm predicts that the market will putter along for a couple of years before hitting $2.7 billion in 2011 and $4.4 billion in 2012.
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