“Remarketing” in the Digital Domain: Abandonment Tracker Pro

In the sci-fi movie Minority Report, there is a scene in which Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderson, is walking through a mall. As he steps through the doors, dozens of cameras track every pedestrian. Advertisements targeted specifically to individuals then automatically appear next to the wall addressing the person by name. Over the years, a personal profile has been built for each person so that marketers know the types of products they like, and most effective advertising technique for an individual.

When the New York Times announced Abandonment Tracker Pro, a new product for vendors to track down customers after they leave a web site (to be released next month), the Minority Report instantly came to mind.

To an extent our society is already headed in that direction. While technology has not reached the level of this movie, we are currently leaving a trail of information about ourselves on the Internet: our preferences and dislikes, personality traits, shopping habits, our age, education, social status. Data miners are gobbling this info up and consolidating this info into personal profiles that may be sold to “third parties.”

So if this information is available to the general public, do private companies have a right to collect it and distribute it? Do you have a right, similar to the national Do-Not-Call phone list, to request these third parties to not contact you? Where can one draw the line between advertising and personal privacy?

I enjoyed the following quote from the NY Times article, and agree that it is very bold for marketers to venture in this direction (thought I am not surprised):

The idea that a visitor isn’t entitled to leave an online store empty-handed without being pestered sounds distasteful enough. But having that contact start immediately seems a new form of marketing brazenness.

Abandonment Tracker’s remarketing depends upon knowing the e-mail address of the wayward prospect; knowing the phone number will make follow-up phone calls possible, too. (And if you’ve signed in, a store would be able to find you with the e-mail address you provided when you registered.)

Charles Nicholls, SeeWhy’s founder, says he advises Web sites to have visitors “put their e-mail address in at the first step,” to increase the likelihood that it will be captured.

In the near future, do not be surprised if you are contacted from an online store about products that you viewed online but did not purchase.

Click here for more info about the Abandonment Tracker Pro.

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About repplinger

John has served as a Reference Librarian at Willamette University since 2002. He is the liaison to the Science Departments, and is responsible for maintaining the collections related to the life & physical sciences. His research interests range over the entire spectrum of libraries and information sciences, but includes: - Google and its influence on information & society - The Internet's influence on information seeking & sharing behaviors - Trends of scholarly communication - Electronic learning environments - Traditional pedagogy - GIS use in academic libraries

Posted on May 20, 2009, in Consumerism, Data Mining, Philosophies, Privacy, Technology, Videos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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