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Google, what will you pick?

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this is a direct response to “The advertising industry has quietly launched one of history biggest efforts in social profiling” interview with Professor Joseph Turow, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School about his new book “The Daily You: How the Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth”

The idea of targeted marketing is not a groundbreaking concept among marketers or advertisers. However, it’s the idea of moving onto the digital space where everything (including eye-movement, amount of spent time and clicking behavior) is trackable that recently raised an enormous amount of concern among the public, or at least the thought-leaders who are smart enough to pinpoint what’s going on.

From the lens of both an aspiring marketer and an average consumer, I do see how the personal privacy concern terrifies people. Media buying is the core of advertising though it doesn’t get the glory it deserves in Mad Men. The new world of technology and digital platforms has dawned on us and no one is 100% sure what kind of implications it has on future media consumption and advertiser’s buying yet. I see validity in the argument that soft news and journalism are going to feel the impact, both online and offline. Now, journalists, to what extent would you go to please advertisers and marketers? at the expense of truthful content? I sure hope not.

From the very first day in Principles of Advertising class, a simple demonstration has taught me the sacred philosophy: marketers simply chase consumers. History has it: from the very beginning of faceboook when it was still available to a small portion of college students to the recent rush to Pinterest. At the same time, data mining subtly is a stealth activity going on behind the scene, just as Turow pointed out. Future market targeting based on social profiling, does have ramifications for reality altering and individual discrimination to a certain extent. However, I would say, from a marketer’s perspective, that no customer segmentation would be called “waste” as Turow feared. We, as individuals, all have different interests and hobbies. Simply catering to those specific needs can further enhance shopping ease. So for example, if you’re a male, advertisers no longer make you stand through a commercial for a menstrual-related product or if you just got out of a relationship and still devastated, we’ll be sensitive as not to show you lovey-dovey couples showing off their wedding rings.

From a consumer perspective, I’m startled by the idea that there is specific profiling analysis going on under the hood that I’m not aware of. I’m on board with Turow how there needs to be a better system of informing the public that there are certain personal information being extracted from playing farmville, tetris, words with friends or drawsomething. And at the end of the day, I wonder if anyone else feels nervous clicking the “allowing access to my facebook” button like I do when I’m trying to play a no-brainer game on my iPhone. It had certainly made me clench more than once and even inspired a Youtube comedian to take it up a notch.

As businesses and clients are rushing to agencies with social media involvement requests, there is a bigger problem to be solved in terms of both government guidance and self-regulation on agencies and data mining services. Aha, did anyone make the connection to the Youtube scenario that changed the entertainment industry a few years back: regulating Youtube material to avoid copyright infringements. Looking back, what are the pros and cons to both sides exactly?

The tough situation remains: how to balance between personal targeting and secure privacy?

Facebook, Google, Youtube, Twitter, and other digitally-driven product out there, would you place the consumer’s privacy or pleasing the advertisers as a top priority? You guys are the mediators between products/brands and direct consumers. Which one would you choose? the ones who are using your service or the ones who are paying you to maintain the service? I hope the answer should always be BOTH, in equal importance of course.

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