No Targeted Ads For AIDS & Cancer Patients; But Drug Addicts & Dead People Are Fair Game

from the you-gotta-have-some-standards dept

Last month, we discussed how behavioral targeting of advertising risked seriously creeping people out, if it reached that "uncanny valley" of being a little too targeted, but not yet useful. It seems that behavioral targeted advertising firms are trying to deal with this by working together to come up with a set of standards covering what topics are taboo when it comes to targeted advertising. Cancer and AIDS patients, rejoice. Advertisers have decided not to target you. However, if you're old, addicted to drugs, religious, a convicted felon or dead, you're fair game. Dead? Well, the ad group says it meant the "death" category to be for targeting ads at relatives making funeral plans ("Death in the family? Get a casket for 20% off!"). How thoughtful of those advertising groups.
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Filed Under: ads, aids, behavioral advertising, cancer, targeted ads

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2008 @ 8:17pm

    tageted bads

    How do their ads get to the target ?
    Not very well if javascript is disabled.

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

  • identicon
    Relonar, 11 Apr 2008 @ 9:27pm

    Actually I really surprised myself today.
    And myself being the kind of person that opts-out of almost any sort of ad service, it was a really surprising thought.

    I was walking into [insert random department store name here] and they had those little lcd screens that show a security camera feed as you walked in. then it switched to a blank page with the store logo(timer or something I supposed).
    And I thought to myself: hey, wouldn't it be totally neat If that camera was linked to a facial recognition software that was linked to a database that could pull an ad from demographic or 'rewards card' source, and then have the screen show me something I might be interested in?

    after that I regained sanity and figured the Cina-bun(sp?) I had just enjoyed had been doped with something, man those things are good.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2008 @ 9:39pm


      Who sent you here? I want to kick them in the ass, because your too stupid to know what a good ass kicking looks like. I'll let you watch.

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

    • identicon
      Tzar, 13 Apr 2008 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Recognition software

      Yes, that would be great. A computer can recognize me and see my demographic and try to tie me into consumerism a little bit more, but think of the possibilities! That little computer could also recognize me and send that to a mainframe that kept track of where I (and everyone else is). Great as this would be for crime, think about the loss of freedom. Do you really want someone to know where you are and what you're doing all the time?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2008 @ 5:24am

    "No Targeted Ads For AIDS & Cancer Patients; But Drug Addicts & Dead People Are Fair Game"

    Not to nitpick, but using a semi-colon *and* "but" to separate two statements is redundant. The semi-colon typically replaces the word "and", anyway. So in the title that would be the same as saying "no targeted ads for aids & cancer patients and but drug addicts & dead people are fair game".

    Probably would have been better to replace the semi-colan with a comma and leave the rest as it is.

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

  • identicon
    oliver, 12 Apr 2008 @ 5:47am

    like ur conversation guys...all the way from Botswana

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

  • identicon
    Glenn Charles, 12 Apr 2008 @ 6:09am

    convicted felons

    Unless, of course, it was a felony-one. Two and three involve parole and stay on the record. Just to clear things up, guys.

    And most of the criminals I've known could barely read.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2008 @ 3:05pm

    I'm lost - how would they even know if you have AIDs / Cancer or a death in the familly?

    Eg: If i'm dong a research project say, Herpies, it pulls what I type from Google and the like?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2008 @ 4:36pm

    I pooped

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

  • identicon
    dualboot, 12 Apr 2008 @ 7:55pm

    Targeted ads

    I used to work for an advertising agency, and I'm not sure if they mean what you're all understanding it to mean. It has been several years, but when I was in advertising, targeted ads meant that they would be designed for a specific audience, and then (if they were commercials) would be inserted into shows that the desired demographic was likely to view. For instance, the ad related to death would probably be on late night, since people who are stressing about a recent death tend to sleep fewer hours than other people. Something targeting pet owners would play during "Lassie," "AKC Championship," and other pet-related shows. (AKC=American Kennel Club, for those of you who might not know).

    Print targeted ads, on the other hand, are targeted using surveys, census data, and data from professional demographic analysis agencies. For instance, a household with a middle-age person and their elderly parent might receive the information targeting death since they are more likely to have it at top of mind than a 30-something couple with 3 kids. So you might get a flyer specific to your demographic based on publicly-available or researched information.

    When it comes to internet targeted advertising, many websites (I don't have my directory handy) automatically load a cookie onto your computer when you visit one of their clients, and then it tracks the types of websites you visit, and the terms you search, so that when you return to one of their clients' websites, the banner ads and side-bar ads will be advertisements for their other clients, based on your browsing history.

    They don't need retinal scanning and facial recognition (although I've read and watched many sci-fi stories that suggest that is where our future is heading), to do behavioral analysis. That would involve far more research than necessary. They would need access to your criminal/credit/employment/purchase histories based on the identity it locates in the system for you, whereas simply tracking your browsing with a cookie is far more efficient, and doesn't require delving into your deeply personal and confidential information, since they don't care who you actually are... just that whoever uses this computer has browsed a bunch of sites about fertility lately, and the service provider would then show advertisements for fertility clinics instead of mortgage ads. (Although mortgage ads might make sense, too... where would you put your growing family?)

    Also, is it just me, or are most of these posts completely off topic?

    If you want to correct the editing in someone's published writing, email them directly, don't post it in a blog. I always tell my students, if someone is reading and makes a mistake, but you can still understand what the sentence means, don't interrupt to correct them. It just detracts from the flow of things, and those things can be corrected privately.

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

    • identicon
      NoNameGiven, 12 Apr 2008 @ 9:17pm

      Re: Targeted ads

      I do not allow cookies on my computer.
      Opps, there goes your easy tracking.

      Then you have the likes of Phorm come along with their own version of the man in the middle attack. If allowed by the ISP and if it survives the court challanges, it potentially can record your every move on the web. The only problem with their targeting is that it relies upon javascript for delivery.
      I do not allow arbitrary code execution on my computer.
      Opps, there goes your targeted ads. I will never see them.

      All this web 2.0 hoopla is fine and dandy for the folks who love flash, ajax and ruby on rails. However - there are those that dislike all that crap, and for good reason. Javascript is one of the favorite attack vectors among those that wish to take over your computer.

      So ... who are you kidding. Or maybe you are just some advertising bot spewing all over blogs.

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

      • identicon
        TheTraveler, 14 Apr 2008 @ 11:15am

        Re: Re: Targeted ads

        You might not allow cookies on your computer or random java executions, but that’s just one overly worried user compared to the millions of people who could give two shits what goes on when it comes to there PC.

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

        • identicon
          one overly worried user, 14 Apr 2008 @ 5:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Targeted ads

          "the millions of people who could give two shits what goes on"

          Yes, and that is a problem, isn't it ?

          I for one, am not part of the spambot army.

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

  • identicon
    J.D., 13 Apr 2008 @ 11:14am

    Targeted ads

    Targeted advertising, in and of itself, could be considered harmless, if annoying. I can just imagine what Google mus know about me, but nobody is knocking on my door with a warrant - yet. It is the other uses that these corporate databases are being put to that worries me.

    Companies don't track their customers in house, they hire outside specialist firms to do it. I work for a major chain retailer. Last night, someone tried to return an electronic item without a receipt. Less than a second after the cashier scanned the BAR code, her POS terminal gave her a detailed record of who purchased the item, where it was purchased, and when it was purchased. It had not been sold by us, but Best Buy.

    This might be considered a legitimate use of information, but you can see how this will lead to all sorts of mischief as governments have begun dipping into the databases for all sorts of reasons. Aside from the obvious, such as redistricting to fix elections, there are all sorts of issues regarding civil rights and national sovereignty. Suppose, for example, you bought a Nazi uniform once for a costume party. In France, that's a criminal act. Could you end up on a wanted list in the EU? And when, not if, the next liberal administration signs us back up with the National Criminal Court, could France try to extradite you?

    It's too late to close Pandora's box, but we need to establish a lot more oversight than is currently in place.

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

  • identicon
    Relonar, 13 Apr 2008 @ 3:07pm

    Re:^2 Recognition software

    As I stated it wasn't my most sane or thought out thoughts that I have ever had. Obviously I would have problems with a service that tied anything more than a database number to [insert legal name and records], or something that would be used to track where I am all the time at multiple locations.

    I was thinking something a bit smaller like an individual store chain. And link purchases to one of those use-this-card-and-get-great-rewards cards, something that you can easily use an alias or opt-out on.

    Though as with any large enough database I could see that it could be abused.

    but mostly it is just as bad/good as ads you may see at the end of your receipt when you use a card like that to "save that extra 10%", I mean 'they' know exactly when and how many banana's you buy every week with one of those!
    just now they get you as you walk in with a brightly colored overpriced 3d projected image lcd display and higher than audible resonant speakers that privately announce your personal sales.

    In my belief: it is coming. It is just a matter of getting the people that write the legal stuff to put some boundaries on how it can be used by the law enforcement (and gossipy marketing agents). At the same time it sets up ways for yourself to exploit this system...
    have fun

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

  • identicon
    Bobbknight, 13 Apr 2008 @ 6:18pm


    I want a casket for 20 off retail, they cost a hell of a lot of money.
    You should see the morticians when they take a tour of Hillenbrand, Inc. Batesville Casket Company, they are a riot.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2008 @ 6:07am

    You know, I tried that javascript-disabling extension in Firefox once. It caused more trouble than it was worth, by far. Just about every site I went to, I constantly had to whitelist sites just so they would work properly. The ads don't annoy me enough to waste time like that.

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

  • identicon
    deathbychichi, 14 Apr 2008 @ 7:37am

    Since you specifically mentioned death...

    Funerals are pretty high margin affairs and there are a number of little scams involved. LIke the doctor already sent your dad to a funeral home and you have to pay hundreds to even get him back, so you just go with that company. Then the equation of buying a casket that looks nice enough that your loved ones don't think you cheaped out, and you gotta buy it from the same people who are holding his body hostage.

    Screw that, I say give me targeted advertising and help me save a bundle on funeral expenses. The whole thing is an incredible metaphysical sham in which god and the state are dragged into your personal affairs, anyway... why impoverish yourself to feed those trading on your discomfort and grief? (And you can bet the funeral guys (aka caterers to the dead) would be very happy to have death-oriented targeted advertising declared off-limits as well.

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

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