Feeds

Yahoo! Nectar deal to link online ads to offline buys

Peeking at your purchases, for real

Security for virtualized datacentres

Shoppers will have internet adverts displayed to them based on their offline shopping habits in a new scheme being developed by internet publisher Yahoo! and customer loyalty scheme Nectar.

The two companies will link their databases in a bid to better target consumers with relevant adverts and to improve the tracking of ads' effectiveness in persuading consumers to buy goods.

The system will help advertisers to target people according to their shopping habits offline as well as online and will help to determine when they have bought advertised goods in shops as well as online retail sites.

The plan will link the databases of each company so that Nectar's information can influence the results of the behavioural advertising system that determines what adverts a Nectar user sees on pages whose ads are supplied by Yahoo!.

The system is an opt-in one, meaning that consumers have to actively choose to allow their data to be used in this way. Nectar is offering some of its points as an incentive for consumers to participate and 20,000 have already signed up, according to press reports. Nectar and Yahoo! did not respond to requests for comment on the scheme.

The programme, called Consumer Connect, uses the past shopping habits of the 20,000 users to decide what adverts to show them in the future. Though this is already common with online behavioural advertising, previous systems have not been able to use offline shopping data to form part of users' profiles.

Press reports say that customers with Nectar accounts can have those profiles linked to their Yahoo! profiles without revealing personally-identifiable information to better target adverts to them when they surf online.

“For the first time UK advertisers will have a simple way to track offline sales from online advertising campaigns,” Mark Rabe, Yahoo’s UK managing director, told the Financial Times newspaper, which also reported that Cadbury would be the system's first trial user of the service.

Behavioural advertising uses cookies to monitor what internet users look at online. Websites visited place cookies in users' browsers which are read by other sites, allowing advertising systems to build up a profile of a user's activity.

This is then used to guess a person's interests and their likely buying habits in a bid to increase the relevance of the adverts that a user sees.

Some companies' tracking of users' behaviour has provoked protests over users' privacy, but the fact that users must opt-in specifically to this programme is likely to satisfy any concerns about its compliance with privacy laws.

Consumer protection regulator the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) last autumn launched an investigation into online sales and advertising practices to find out if they harmed consumers.

Its report, expected within weeks, will cover the practice of behavioural advertising. It said that one possible outcome is a demand that the industry create and adhere to a code of practice on the tactic.

The European Commission's Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva has also expressed concern about the privacy rights of internet users. Last November she announced the creation of the Stakeholder Forum on Fair Data Collection to look into the issue.

"[The growing use of behavioural advertising] has an increasingly significant impact on consumers, who are genuinely concerned about the use of their private data," she said. "In this forum, publishers, advertisers, ad-networks, and other business representatives will shortly be invited to outline their plans and to address pertinent issues with the European Commission and other key stakeholders, such as consumer organisations."

Copyright © 2010, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.