Summary:

The relationship of consumers to online advertising is often hung up on the issue of privacy. Targeting is the name of the game, whether its…

Mike Cassidy, CEO, Undertone

The relationship of consumers to online advertising is often hung up on the issue of privacy. Targeting is the name of the game, whether its behavioral or contextual, and walking the fine lines is a large part of what ad tech companies do. Reuters (NYSE: TRI) media reporter and panel moderator Jennifer Saba put the question of best practices — ones that are each trying to help make publishers money, drive sales for marketers and make it all a little less scary for consumers — to a group of panelists at the paidContent Advertising conference

One of the keys to understanding the tripwires to targeted advertising is looking at it through the prism of a consumer like yourself, said Undertone CEO Mike Cassidy. “I don’t want a lot of junk mail, but sometimes I get something interesting. It’s the same with online advertising. For example, I’m not thinking of buying a Kleenex box right now, but every now and then, I’m going to need a tissue. Whether online or offline, it’s the same thing.”

Meanwhile, the issue of privacy varies according to the kinds of companies and sites that rely on users’ sharing of information. “Facebook needs to be held to a different standard, they have so much personal data,” Cassidy said. “It’s in a whole other place from where the rest of the online advertising world is. Facebook is on its own separate island.”

The campaign to create more awareness of targeted advertising — while taking the fear out of it for consumers — is part of the proposition for privacy compliance service Evidon. The challenge for Evidon is addressing the nature of consumers: on one hand, they want as much information as possible, but at the same time, they don’t want to wade through reams of technical speak.

“Think about the recycle label,” said Evidon CEO Scott Meyer. “How many of you read the nutrition label every time? But would you buy the product without the label? Who would want to buy a Coke if you had to read a label every time?”

In terms of serving ads that people want, MaryAnn Bekkedahl, AdKeeper’s president of advertiser solutions, says that the model of clipping coupons has worked offline and there’s no reason those same impulses can’t work online. “It’s early days for us, but we’re seeing some traction around ‘useful ads,’ which are generally things like recipes. The way to understand the ‘good’ ads from the ‘bad’ ones is to let consumers actually come out and tell us what they are. AOL’s Pictela’s ads — large, engaging with a dozen features embedded in it — are perfect for saving for later.”

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