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Old 03-16-2005   #1
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Microsoft Search Advertisers Gets TOO Personal

A slashdot entry named Microsoft Search Advertisers Get Personal caught my attention. Check out this quote:

Quote:
Alascom writes "According to this AP report, Microsoft is raising privacy concerns by allowing search advertisers to use personal information. Yusuf Mehdi, a corporate vice president with the MSN unit, said Microsoft has gathered this personal information by tracking users who have logged into its Hotmail e-mail program or other Microsoft Web sites in order to allow advertisers to target their ads to a specific audience."
I bolded the words I want to bring out more. I always found that hard, the bolding part. Anyway. I titled this thread "Microsoft Search Advertisers Gets Too Personal." There I go with the bolding again. So your thoughts?
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Old 03-16-2005   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
A slashdot entry named Microsoft Search Advertisers Get Personal caught my attention. Check out this quote:



I bolded the words I want to bring out more. I always found that hard, the bolding part. Anyway. I titled this thread "Microsoft Search Advertisers Gets Too Personal." There I go with the bolding again. So your thoughts?
Normal marketing technique using aggregate data. A non-issue as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 03-16-2005   #3
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Let me try to paint a picture (just to play the other side of the coin).

Mr. Dumbfounder gets his first computer from Dell, preinstalled is IE and those fun MSN toolbars and plugins. He jumps to get a free hotmail account by going to hotmail.com. Fills out the form with accurate demographic information and clicks accept to all those terms. He then gets one of those promotional emails from MSN about online dating. He thinks, hey, let me try that out. Clicks on the ad, and goes to MSN's Match.com, fills out his likes and dislikes and connects with a few. Oh, but he needs to buy a new pair of pants and jumps over to MSN Shopping, selects a brand, style, color, size, and places it in his basket. Fills out the billing information and completes the purchase. He has a few hours to kill before his date and pants arrive, so he jumps over to the MSN tax program as files his taxes and while he has his papers out plugs in his stock quotes into the MSN stock portfolio tracking system. Then he has about 15 minutes until his date, so he goes to encarta and brushes up on some intellectual facts about the history of the Internet and privacy concerns.

What did MSN just get from this person? Wow.

Now that I know who this person is, what types of girls he likes, what size pants he wears, his financial situation and his intellectual interests - why not serve up more targeted ads to the person.

side note: that was actually fun
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Old 03-16-2005   #4
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Not good, not good!!!

The worst part of this is that it will enrage teh cookie debate again. There is a limit to what consumers will accept, and if the Marketing world wants statistics, we need to be understanding of how far is too far, and not push the envelope too far and suffer a backlash.

IMHO, you don't need all the bells and wistles to be an effective online marketer, and having them is likely to cause a backlash, so let's do without them.
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Old 03-17-2005   #5
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Urrrr...well lookee at what Google could possibly introduce one day.
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Old 03-17-2005   #6
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To me it's all about "fair trade" - companies HAVE to learn how to be honest with the users. If they don't they will fail. That is especially true for Europe where we have very strong user protection groups and laws (Germany for example, being very strict on privacy issues).

But even within the US this could create legal issues too. To continue your brilliant MSN storie, Rysty, what if MSN based on all the knowladge on this person decides to prescribe the right medication for him - the right pills, minerals or special foods, and it turns out it kills him? With the strong liability laws in the US this could become a real show stopper!
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Old 03-17-2005   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikkel deMib Svendsen
What if MSN based on all the knowladge on this person decides to prescribe the right medication for him - the right pills, minerals or special foods, and it turns out it kills him? With the strong liability laws in the US this could become a real show stopper!
Wow, is that the future?
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Old 03-17-2005   #8
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Wow, is that the future?
Yes, I do believe more and more personalization and automated agents (personal, free and subscription based) will help us handle the the overlow of information. There are so much information out there but only a fraction of it will ever interest me. The more information available, the better tools we need to sort it out for us. Such tools need to know MY preferences very well to function properly. Most of them don't today.

Think about chat and communication robots - they already excist (I used to be VP of Product Management for a firm that makes them). Such bots can already "understand" and respond to natural language (written) communication. It's not perfect but it's getting there. I am very sure you will soon begin to see more and more robots like that service you in forums, chats and online support systems. So, why not get a personal bot too? - one that can take care of your daily communitation and information collection needs for you and compile a daily or weekly summary of what goes on....

Getting home from the beach, turning on my computer and open the PersonalBot: "Hello Mikkel. Today I have found 12 threads in various forums that I think you'll like. I did a reply to a thread with a poor guy that needed some help with a rewrite issue. If you want to add anything to the post click here. I ordered a new motherboard for your file server as it looks like it's about to crash - and don't worrie, I didn't get it from Dell, that I know you hate. You got an invitation from your uncle for a dinner next wedensday. Allthough I can see your calendar is free I did send a NO reply because I know you really don't like him. Go get drunk!"

... back to the beach ....
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Old 03-17-2005   #9
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Glad you expanded on it further. Don't forget about GPS enabled mobie devices. Mikkel, want to offer more futuristic examples?
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Old 03-17-2005   #10
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As the practice of use demographic and behavorial data grows, and as consumers become increasingly able to prevent data collection (e.g., deleting cookies) we're going to see approaches for rewarding consumers for their data.
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Old 03-17-2005   #11
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cline, I think so too - or, at least I very much hope so. Thats what I mean about a "fair trade". I think that many consumers would be ready to give up some information if the trade was fair - f what they got in return made it worth it. Only time will tell what that incentive have to be - and at what level. I would hope, as a consumer, that it becomes a competitive market so I can shop around my personal information and right to track and analyse my behaviour to the higgest bidder, the one I trust most, agree with most or the one with the best complete offer - or maybe give it away for charity! Yes, imgine a "give up your privacy for charity" program ... In either case, it has to be my choice.

Quote:
Mikkel, want to offer more futuristic examples?
... oh my... there are so many examples, don't get stareted hehe I think I got enough for a few books

Maybe I can expand a bit on the chat bot/ personal agent a bit. The idea actually came up during a theoretical discussion at the previous bot-company I worked for. We had developed these chat bots that the majority of users did not recognise as bots. They worked too well We started talking about, that as you build your friendship, or business relations, online you sooner or later run into a time issue. Or, maybe you just want to spend a day or two at the beach. So, why not send it your own chat bot, that could communicate based on YOUR knowladge (that it would learn through gathering and analysis of all your public posts) and your preferences? Nobody would know if it was you or your bot online today - and most probably wouldn't even bother. "It's not the skin that counts, but the real person behind" ...

Anyway, our discussion became really funny when we came to the issue of how to handle bots talking to bots. What would happen? Would they go into a virtual feedback and die out in a digital screem? Would the discussions evolve into usefull information - or just become more and more stupid. We never found the right answer before I left, so I am not sure where that stands ...

Another thing that I also had a great interest in back then was how humans interact with such agents and bots. If you don't know if a bot is real - if there is a person behind, or not then how do you react as a human. How do you interact?

We had a few "funny" situations. One of the most tragic ones was a young guy that fell in love with one of our female bots before he found out what it was. He really thought "she" was real and he was very sad - and very mad at us. I understand him. It wasn't fair but we just didn't know better. Adjustments to the bots was made after this.

I find the human aspects of bot and agent technology very interesting. How do we interact with machines at this level? And what happens when we start to get etter voice recognition and artificial speach into this?

We found that many of the limitations are of a human nature. I mean, who want to talk to your fridge? Right? I would feel so stupid. I don't like talking to my car either. I've gotten use to talk to my phone - even though there is not always anyone in the other end - except for some phone-bot - bot I am definately not ready to talk to any and all public and private machines. Not yet ...
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Old 03-17-2005   #12
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Anyway, our discussion became really funny when we came to the issue of how to handle bots talking to bots. What would happen? Would they go into a virtual feedback and die out in a digital screem? Would the discussions evolve into usefull information - or just become more and more stupid.
or would they start plotting to take over the world? muhahhahahah

Seriously though I was wndering who developed those annoying bots that pop up in the Y! messenger system sometimes, not to mention in chats or on news discussion boards....now I know who to blame! Just kidding Mikkel...

Quote:
We had a few "funny" situations. One of the most tragic ones was a young guy that fell in love with one of our female bots before he found out what it was. He really thought "she" was real and he was very sad - and very mad at us. I understand him. It wasn't fair but we just didn't know better. Adjustments to the bots was made after this.
"my mama always said...stupid is, is stupid does.." But, I think these bots would have a great ability to act as appointment setters or Internet-telemarketers. They could gauge interest and forward the info to a live salesperson...was this an idea behind their creation?
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Old 03-17-2005   #13
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Hey it is a matter of perspective... you can wipe your cookies and install firewalls... you can just refuse cookies and do not sign for free mail..

I like a better tailored ad etc.
Give me something smarter and the chances are better I will buy.

I would be more concerned of someone cloning the credit card number as opposed to passing around I have a 36" waist and prefer pleated pants and like professional blondes!
I have no probelsm and do understand the implications - life is too short to worry and if they can shorten my journey to getting what I want all the better!
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Old 03-17-2005   #14
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What's worrisome is if Microsoft gathers information because you're a Microsoft software user -- and requires registration for something -- and then uses that info with their MSN division.
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Old 03-17-2005   #15
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The marketing world already knows just about everything there is to know about us already. They've been collecting demographics on each of us for a very long time. This is nothing new, nor is it any more sinister or threatening than it's been all along. You order one motorcycle magazine at the age of 18, and you'll be marketed to by motorcycle-related companies for the rest of your life. Every time you check out in a store, and they say, "What's your zip code", they are collecting data. People in zip code 12345 buy more widgets than they do wadgets. And it goes on and on and on. It's too late to get paranoid. It's been going on for far too long. Don't worry, be happy. You are already a part of the matrix.
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Old 03-17-2005   #16
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I agree in part, but cookies make it different. I don't want to be amrketted to in this way, so I avoid giving away info, don't join crappy credit card "rewards" programmes and the like and keep me private.

The problem is really simple. With cookies, if users turn them off, ALL online Marketers lose. If they turn off Referrer Logging, even worse.

What we need to do (as online marketers), is strike a balance between the information we collect today, and our potential to collect it again in teh future. If we get it wrong, we all lose, and this sort of programme (ESPECIALLY from Microsoft) has ramifications beyond the benefits IMHO.
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Old 03-18-2005   #17
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too extreme

Too much information. These people just have too much information. My grandmother is still fending off sales people calling my grandfather who passed away 4 years ago. I am not sure about the law in the US regarding personal data, but in Spain you can request that you personal info is not used or sold to 3rd parties. I recently have been sending eBay Spain a couple of messages a day telling them to stop sending me spam. As soon as I created an eBay account I followed their instructions and sent them a message requesting to never receive any advertising from them. I was ignored and continue to receive crap. I guess I should just accept the fact that my personal information no longer belongs to me.
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Old 03-18-2005   #18
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It's only an extension of their existing demo-targeting

Why is this suddenly a big issue?

Microsoft collects the demo data from information held in it's Passport system. This is the same data that has been powering the demographic targeting in Hotmail that MSN offers to advertisers. They have been doing this for years already.
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Old 03-18-2005   #19
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Why is this suddenly a big issue?
This has not suddenly become an issue. Many of us have discussed this for many years.
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Old 03-18-2005   #20
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>many years

Agreed. Having read the MSN news elsewhere, I was just coming to post an old quote ('98-ish) in my profiile.

"Personal information is the currency of the internet."
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