Q&A: Will Behavioral Targeting See Regulation?

Last Updated Aug 14, 2008 8:09 PM EDT

This week, I'll be asking some of the big questions I have about the advertising industry to people who have skin in the game.
BNET: Will the controversy surrounding NebuAd ultimately bring harsher regulation into behavioral targeting?
Michael Katz, CEO, interCLICK: One of the best ways to address that question is to look at recent history. For example, consider what happened with adware. Long story short, adware had a great value proposition for advertisers, but users didn't know what was going on. There was really no standard for the way things should be done so it was like the Wild West. By the time there was order in place, it was too late. As an industry, we need to look to our past to make sure we don't repeat the same mistakes. The Network Advertising Initiative is doing some great things, as is Revenue Science to set the guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is not.

Mike Benedek, Vice President, AlmondNet: It's increasing the focus on industry self-regulation, which is a good thing. Technological advancements in our industry move very quickly. Because of this, self-regulation can be a more effective way of ensuring user privacy. Further, there is a clear distinction between the type of behavioral targeting employed by companies such as NebuAd and other players in the industry. NebuAd employs deep packet inspection and therefore can have access to a consumers' entire web footprint, including their personally-identifiable information. While other players, specifically members of the NAI, employ behavioral targeting methods that are cookie-based, do not access personally-identifiable information, enables the consumer to opt-out, and only accesses the user on sites where data is collected and sites where ads are delivered. The FTC has recently called for meaningful industry self-regulation along the lines pursued by the NAI.

Dave Martin, Vice President of Interactive Media, Ignited: NebuAd will drive better understanding of the mechanics of ISP-level targeting. There will be strict regulations on what can be collected from consumers based on their behaviors (no personally identifiable information), but this shouldn't prevent companies like NebuAd from adding considerable value to marketers' targeting efforts.