Monday, June 29, 2009

Targeting targeted advertising

There's a strong movement afoot to set targeted advertising as the antithesis to privacy. See, for example, this sententious blathering from that normally reliable publication, The Register.

Advertising is what's paying for the internet. There are two types of advertising, targeted and non-targeted. Non-targeted ads means I have to wade through ads for feminine hygiene, pet flea collars, securities traders, mortgage lenders and dozens of others that I not only have no interest in, but will never have an interest in because I'm the wrong gender or don't have the item (pet, need to trade stock, re-financing quandary, etc.) that they are aiming for.

On the other hand, I am interested in travel, slow food, blues music, comfortable clothing, and other topics whose ads I'll gladly read and often click on. Occasionally I'll even make the purchase. I don't feel they intrude on my time (certainly not as much as PR types who call me early in the AM) nor do I feel that my "privacy" has been violated.

The article I pointed to above includes the usual diatribe about Google and Gmail: "Gmail scans your personal communication for keywords - there is no opt-out, and using a secure tunnel is no protection." But of course there's an opt-out: DON'T USE GMAIL! (and, I must ask, protection from what?) Use some other "free" service, or pay for one. Google has no obligation to provide you with free email, photoposting (Picassa), newspapers (Google News), telephone accessories (Google Voice) or any of the other ad-supported services from the Mountain View search giant.

I like my Gmail. If you don't, that's fine. Just leave me alone to enjoy it and I'll leave you alone to enjoy whichever mail service you choose.


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