Advertisers Agree On Standardized Ad Tracking System To Better Spy On You

from the well-that's-nice dept

As TV execs are slowly starting to realize that the traditional 30-second-commercial-broadcast-to-millions-of-homes model of advertising is dying, advertising execs are trying to help move them along by finally agreeing to a standardized tagging system so that all advertisers can uniquely identify advertisements. Initially, this should make it easier to make sure the right commercials show at the right time, but it also opens up plenty of other possibilities -- some good, some bad. For example, it could make it easier to better customize advertising. An advertiser could easily designate multiple versions of an advertisement for different audiences, and the ID system could easily drop the proper ad into place for the proper audience. Another good idea (though, not suggested in the article, and unlikely to be implemented) would be to build up a big database of publicly available commercials. The amount of traffic a site like AdCritic used to get should show that, even if people are skipping TV ads on their TiVo, they still want to seek out and find the good TV commercials. This system would create a perfect way to classify the ads so they could be in one big central database, allowing more people to view the good ones. Of course, instead of that, it appears the advertisers are drooling about the possibility of tying this AD-ID to RFID so they can somehow tell that you bought product X after watching commercial Y. The article talks openly about how exciting an opportunity this is for advertisers, which shows just how backwards their thinking is. If they want to use these new technologies, instead of telling us how they're going to use them to spy on us, tell us how they'll make our lives better.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Aug 2004 @ 3:37pm

    And the have no problems talk about..

    I spent last summer working for/with a company providing infrastructure software for tv stations.

    While that is/was an unlikely place for such lateralness, They have/had no problems talking about selling custom routers that would track viewers and schedule ads for individuals in future web related products of their unlimited expansion plans.

    This would be/is done by piercing the TCP/IP stack to target the ever present MAC address, e.g. the serial number burned into your network adapter, rather than the ephemeral IP address or troubling about the application/cookie layer.

    Thus when you talk about RFID, please do not forget that all web traffic already contains such an identifier and that whatever respect techies might have for the 'stack' goes right out the window when you posit bonus money for creating a truly evil system.

    'Evil' in the sense that while a site may have a privacy policy, it is/was clear then that you do not get any promises from infrastructure equipment such as routers who would be free to seed ad-queues based on MAC addresses.

    Last but not least, having been in the server side application development tool business for 9 years, I want to state the 'obvious' fact that hashing the extra headers delivered by one's browser in any web request creates a very potent means of tracking individuals. While a lot of people may be using the same browser, there is plenty of variance in the balance of the headers to differentitate and identify the system you're coming from by the add-ons you've installed.

    Regards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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