The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Behavioral Targeting, Will It Start to Be Creepier Than Ever Before?

Everyone hates a recommendation engine that thinks because you once bought a replica of medieval warrior for your nephew, you must be a fan of all things medieval. But we have all seen those ads on Facebook or Yahoo that seem to know where our brother went to college or when it's time to check the oil in our car. They always feel oddly relevant, yet creepy.

As advertisers migrate their communication to new channels like Twitter, iPhone apps and Facebook fan pages, behavioral targeting starts to notice my digital trail and not just my declared interest in a singular piece of content. Convergence enables the convenient amalgamation of my personal data for easy access from anywhere. I love it when I want to show a photo of my dog or a trip I didn't take with my phone to someone on an airplane over a wifi connection. Technology needs only to connect the dots in those moments to prove to me how innovation improves the quality of my life as a consumer.

Holly Brown, SVP MRM with panelists Vipin Mayar, EVP Global Analytics and Marketing Accountability, MRM Worldwide: Ben Straley Co-Founder & CEO, Meteor Solutions; Volkan Tekel,i Director Customer Analytics, Xbox Consumer Marketing, Microsoft;; Brian K. Walker Senior Analyst, Forrester Research

As a technologist, it is easy to understand the value of connecting the meta-data behind that interaction e.g., what sites i visit while on a plane, what ads I click on, what media I watch. What advertiser wouldn't want to know If their Facebook fans who also use airplane wifi are more active and engaged buyers or if a Twitter follower who also downloads games from their iPhone may likely be in New York when you open a new retail store and should receive a coupon? Targeting is highly valuable for an advertiser, but at what level is targeting creepy for a user?

When does technology enablement cross from being a benefit to stalking? I was recently followed by someone on Twitter who had a persona of a stalker. His tweets were "I see you" and "I know what you do on Monday after work'." I know, I did block MrBeanstalks as spammer, if only because he creeped me out. My rational mind knows he wasn't following me in the literal sense...but, he was following me in the digital sense, and that still felt weird.

After attending my first Digital Immersion Lab on Analytics at MRM in Seattle tonight, I couldn't help but wonder, will engagement hungry advertisers and developers of digital marketing solutions be able to responsibly meld social media and marketing so they don't seem like Mr Beanstalks?  Tell me what you think in the comment section here.

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