Archive for the ‘ facebook ’ Category

What’s the Price of Your Privacy?

As I mentioned in my last post, advances in technology are making it more enticing for marketers and advertisers to take a peek into the trends you follow online. With the help of technology such as cookies and online social networking profiles, marketers are now utilizing what is known as behavioral targeting, whereby information on your mouse clicks, interests and searches made is collected and used to create integrated advertising that is unique to you. While many see this as a great way to follow the current trend of niche markets and individualized marketing, others see it as a huge disrespect of privacy. Taking this into account, you might want to think twice before “Like”ing that popular DJ’s page on Facebook, lest you be flooded with promotional ads for lame night clubs on South Beach.

Recently, new changes have been put forth in attempt to abate future legal troubles due to this so-called encroachment on private information. Online companies will have the chance to include a hyperlink near data-collecting portions of a website, which links users to a website listing more information on the practices used to collect this information and what it means to consumers.

Personally, I’m not so sure I buy into these privacy concerns. Is it really so frightening that Facebook knows that I enjoy listening to Radiohead? Or that I like Thai food? While the threats of online identity theft and harassment are certainly real, I would never think to put any personal information online that I don’t already consider public in the first place. In today’s day and age, it seems privacy is only a topic we discuss after we feel it has been violated — even though, for many electronic media, we fail to fully understand the policies in place for these sorts of concerns. Have you ever seen the length of an iTunes contract? Do you really sit and read through it in its entirety before downloading that Taylor Swift CD? I don’t think many do.

What does online privacy mean to you? Do you feel this new AboutAds initiative will help consumers become more knowledgeable?

References:
Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_targeting

Image:
http://www.allfacebook.com

Internet Privacy: How Cookies Have Changed Everything

As you may have seen me mention before, the internet has changed the way consumers seek information. Today, advances in information technology are allowing businesses to track and monitor online traffic through cookies. Not the chocolate chip kind, but the bits of information stored by your web browser that allow different websites you visit to link to one another. For example, a cookie could let an online retailer know that you viewed a video game trailer on YouTube, and suggest similar games for you to purchase based on that. While many are aware of this, and clear the cookies on their web browser accordingly, there are new developments such as Flash cookies that accomplish the same task but can be more difficult to find and erase.

With the current boom in social media usage, riding the overall improvement of accessibility to the internet, it can be easy for many to speculate that today’s generation is less sensitive about what personal information is visible online. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.” Research, however, says otherwise; 92% of teens surveyed in a Zogby poll believe they should be able to request the deletion of all their personal information held by a search engine, social network, or marketing company. 85% would like to see these sources request permission before they collect data at all. And while Zuckerberg mentions these shifts in public thinking, Facebook is still constantly changing its privacy structure to meet consumer’s needs. Most recently, they changed the format of Facebook Groups and other applications in order to offer increased privacy, creating smaller social groups that will allow friends to keep in contact with one another.

As individuals, internet privacy can have a profound impact on our image. As a college student, and a marketing student in particular, I am constantly monitoring the information I post on my Facebook, tweet on Twitter, send through emails and so on. Now, more than ever, it is becoming easier for job recruiters to pull up information about you that is posted online. There are facts to support this, as in many cases businesses have refused to hire students because their online information presents the exact opposite of a professional image.

While the internet has created great ease in information search and retrieval, it has proven to be a double-edged sword. All information, including personal details about your spending habits, your demographics, your interests, etc., is readily available online. Are you taking the steps to make sure the information you put out there represents you in a positive manner?

References:
“Code That Tracks Users’ Browsing Prompts Lawsuits”
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/technology/21cookie.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=internet%20privacy&st=cse

“Teens Want More Privacy Online Too”
http://www.fastcompany.com/1693718/teens-want-more-privacy-controls-poll

“Facebook adds new privacy…”
http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/facebook-adds-new-privacy-dashboard-downloadable-data-group-sharing/?news=123

“Is Your Online Identity Spoiling Your Chances?”
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/jobs/10search.html?scp=3&sq=internet%20privacy&st=cse

Image:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chocolate_chip_cookies.jpg

Twitter: Brand Development or Publicity Gimmick?

Based on current trends in today’s Web 2.0 marketplace, you’d be hard pressed to find a single piece of information on the world wide web that doesn’t have a button to “Recommend on Facebook” or “Share on Twitter” (by the way, be sure to click above to share this blog on your favorite site). Businesses large and small are catching on to the social media craze, and developing new techniques to harness the power of this new form of “personalized” mass communication.

Experts are adamant on the question of whether social media does or does not drive consumers’ purchasing decisions, with each side touting research studies to back their respective claims. But is it really so simple to quantify how these new media impact the customers’ mindset of a brand? Can all the variables truly be account for? Most studies are inconclusive.

One of the aforementioned communication techniques businesses are using, by which they utilize word of mouth from the general public in order to accomplish tasks, has been dubbed crowdsourcing. This is a concept that has been used frequently on social media web sites, blogs, etc., particularly on the quirkiest, fastest information channel of them all: Twitter. Fueled by the modern individual’s desire for immediate gratification and information that appeals to customized tastes, Twitter (famously in 140 character “Tweets”) “asks ‘what’s happening’ and makes the answer spread across the globe to millions, immediately.”

In a new era where Generation Y now outnumbers Baby Boomers, there are certainly arguments one can make for supporting new business plans that involve social media. However, while everyone has heard of the concept and knows how easily information can be passed from business to the consumer, there are still several gray areas in terms of how these sites actually make money. Facebook didn’t turn a profit until five years into its development, and even now the company is hesitant to go public based on an uncertainty of what the future holds for its business model.

Still, the undeniable power of word-of-mouse marketing has spilled into web sites like Twitter. Even the largest corporations are feeling the heat from consumers who might be unhappy with current business practices. Take, for example, the recent NY Times story of the eight-year-old Harry Winsor, who received a stern letter from Boeing on the importance of intellectual-property law after mailing the following drawing to the company’s design team. The kid’s father, who conveniently enough manages an ad agency, decided to discuss the story on his blog and Twitter profile. After receiving support from several others on Twitter, Boeing eventually took notice and decided to re-think its policy, contacting Harry directly in order to mitigate the situation. Is this an example of how techniques like crowdsourcing are changing the way businesses interact with consumers, ultimately opening the line of communication between us and providing higher quality all around? Or, is this simply an isolated incident of how a father used a mix-up by a large corporation in order to foster some free publicity?

References:

“Social Media Helps Drive Purchases”
http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/news/1012746/Social-media-helps-drive-purchases

“Social Media Doesn’t Drive Purchases?”
http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2009/05/social-media-doesnt-drive-purchases.html

Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_y
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_of_mouse

“How Exactly Is Facebook Making Money?”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/sep/16/facebook-money

“Boeing’s Social-Media Lesson”
http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/boeings-social-media-lesson