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Do Track Me… But With a Little Bit of Style!

I read an article in the Washington Post today by Michael Rosenwald which took up a theme I blogged about earlier: at least half the problem with online advertisers is that when they track you they do such a crummy job of actually sending relevant ads and offers your way.

Imagine if you knew as much about me as “they” do: what sites I visit, what I do when I go there, what I buy online.  Don’t you think you could come up with some decent ideas about what to pitch to me?

Rosenwald tried to completely open up his preferences by going directly to ad network sites and checking and unchecking preferences: flowers, but not cars, gadgets but not cars.  Please, Lord, anything but cars!

His results?

There were, however, signs of relevancy. In my day-to-day surfing, I noticed a striking increase in the number of gadget and computer ads. I noticed flower ads. I noticed about a 20 percent decline in car ads. Did I also still see ads for beauty products? Yes. Did I also see ads for Goldman Sachs? Yes. Did those ads annoy me? Yes.

Oh, well.  Maybe the right way out of “Do/Do Not Track” is: Track me, but at least respect my wishes about what to see.


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About the author

an Gordon is Research Director for Valhalla Partners, a Northern Virginia venture capital firm. Dan has twenty-eight years experience working with technology, as a computer scientist, software developer, manager, analyst, and entrepreneur. Prior to joining Valhalla Partners, Dan was a Director and senior staff member at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Technology Centre, analyzing technology trends and consulting on technology-oriented strategies in the software, e-business, wireless, optical, networking, semiconductor IP, and life sciences arenas. He worked with clients from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Dan was a Contributing Writer and Contributing Editor to the Technology Centre’s annual Technology Forecast, and a frequent speaker at industry and general business meetings. Before joining PwC, Dan spent 20 years in Silicon Valley as a software technologist, manager, director, and entrepreneur, including senior technical roles at well-known Silicon Valley firms like Symantec, Intuit, and Oracle. Dan has also been involved in startup companies in the applied Artificial Intelligence and Web applications fields. Dan has a B.A. (cum laude) from Harvard University and an M.S. from New York University in Computer Science. He is a Professional Member of the IEEE and ACM. Dan lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children.