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Personalization vs. Privacy - The DoubleClick / Abacus Direct Merger
Conclusion: Personalization vs. Privacy

The NAI principles and continuing FTC observation of the online advertising industry prevent large-scale loss of anonymity on the web today. The question remains how far personalization and profiling can go before privacy is violated. A definitive answer is hard to find since the detail of profiling, type of data, reach of network, and intent of personalization all are important factors.

DoubleClick believes that by targeting ads to to consumers, it actually makes advertising on the web less intrusive because users are not bombarded with repeat and irrelevant messages. However, there is no guarantee that targeted banners are more effective than other ads. In fact, click-through rates for banner ads have been dropping consistently since they were introduced in 1995. According to Ann Carey, director of interactive services at New York's Margeotes Fertitta & Partners agency, less than 0.5% of users click on a banner ad when they see it [cited in KK00].

This is one of the reasons why Yahoo, the web's most visited search portal [MT00], does not invest in consumer profiling technologies. Anil Singh, chief marketing officer at Yahoo says another reason is that the company does not want to risk destroying the trust people have in their brand: "We're totally unwilling to compromise that for a short-term advantage of getting more advertisers." [cited in JW00]

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