A skeptical eyebrow raised

Slashdot points us to this Seattle Times article. Two quotes here that caught my eye:

“AdCenter will give advertisers sophisticated information about consumers, including their location, age, gender and sometimes, their level of wealth.”

“AdCenter will not give any information that can allow advertisers to personally identify a person, he added.”

Uh huh. Suuuuuuuure. If you “locate” me at 1255 Foo Street, Apt. 355, in Santa Clara, and that I’m a 28 year-old male, it’s pretty easy to identify me. Even if it isn’t quite that specific, just mentioning my income will subject me to a barrage of car ads, home mortgage ads, etc. I’m already sick & tired of the Capital One “No Hassle” mail in my postal box (if it’s “no hassle”, why do they keep hassling me to sign up?)

Pardon me for not believing a convicted monopolist.

</rant>

2 thoughts on “A skeptical eyebrow raised”

  1. It’s highly unlikely “location” will be more than just a reverse IP-to-hostname lookup with some additional processing to further narrow location; that’s usually enough to give an idea as to where the user is geographically. “Location” sounds a heck of a lot more sophisticated than just a reverse IP lookup, tho, and these quotes are supposed to be PR fodder.
    As for age, gender, and wealth, I suspect it’s not overly difficult to make a reasonably accurate guess for any user who visits multiple times using the same stored cookies. The “wealth” indicator is probably gleaned from the ads on which the user clicks, because some will be for products which are most frequently used by more well-to-do people (or are only affordable for such people). If you don’t click on ads, however, I suspect they probably can’t make a particularly good guess about it, which is why they include “sometimes” in the quote.

  2. In my opinion, Microsoft will use the info entered when creating accounts like Hotmail. Those accounts will be moved over to Live.com and their adcenter, without any user consent (that has already happened, actually). The problem is that, indeed, the info filled in the registration form might be complete garbage, and was not in anyway meant to be reused for commercial purposes.
    The conflict of interest will be automatically solved by users opting-out from Hotmail, er Live.com, if Microsoft ever implements this feature…

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