BlueKai Statement on WSJ Coverage on Ad Targeting
The Wall Street Journal has recently published a series of articles about online data targeting and the digital advertising industry as a whole. Other professional journalists have authored posts about The Wall Street Journal coverage since its initial publication, including Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and Stephen Baker, author of The Numerati. The IAB has developed a response on behalf of the online industry and BlueKai fully supports their stance. Rather than examining the fallacies in the WSJ article, we would like to reiterate BlueKai’s corporate stance:
1) As an industry we need to be fully transparent about how targeting is achieved. That is the only way to give consumers the power to make their own choices. BlueKai is one of the first companies in the industry to actively advocate consumer transparency and control and have created the following technologies to support this:
- BlueKai Registry: a tool at bluekai.com that brings transparency to consumers by allowing them to see what preferences are being logged via the cookies on their computer. Furthermore, consumers can also control and manage an anonymous profile or opt out completely.
- White-Label Registry: a white label version of the BlueKai Registry that allows publishers or marketers to provide transparency into what data they are collecting on their site users.
- Opt Out Protector: an open-source solution that helps make consumer opt-outs durable. (Adopted by the Network Advertising Initiative.)
2) BlueKai has created and adheres to strict data policies that exceed industry standards.
- We set a higher bar than COPPA regulations on children. We do not collect or share information on people under the age of 13. Furthermore, to be extra safe we also avoid data on anyone under the age 18. In the process of speaking with the Wall Street Journal, we discovered a modeled data segment provided through one of our aggregator partners that uses content readership to identify people who behave like teens. This segment was never purchased but it should never even have been listed on the BlueKai Exchange. The segment has been removed and our procedures have been strengthened to prevent this in the future.
- We do not collect or share personally identifiable information (PII) such as name, address or phone number.
- We only retain information (web logs and cookies data) for a maximum of 6 months from the day it is collected.
- We do not collect or share information that may be considered sensitive including health and adult behavior such as gambling, drinking, politics, or pornographic content. Furthermore, beyond leaving out obviously sensitive data we let consumers make their own judgments about the sensitivity of data by being transparent.
3) Audience targeting is a significant part of display advertising and funds a large part of our content consumption. A survey by the IAB of 20 of the leading digital ad agencies showed that approximately 70%+ of the $7 billion spend on display advertising uses third party cookies. In plain English – advertisers who fund the content that we read need 3rd party cookies to make sure their ads are relevant to their audiences. [For example – many advertisers say “please do not show this ad more than five times” – doing this requires a third party cookie and the WSJ calls that spying.]
4) The majority of consumers would like to make their own choices about consuming content for free or paying for it. If you ask consumers if they like being spied on – they clearly say no. However, if you instead ask consumers what they prefer more – free content with tracking ads or paying for content with no tracking ads; the majority opt for free content. Marketing Sherpa ran a survey with more than 1,300 consumers. They posed a scenario in which a user visits free sites, some of which track her online behaviors to push her ads elsewhere online. They then asked if the users preferred free content with tracking or paid for content without tracking and 88% of the users preferred free content with tracking. Life is about trade-offs and we at BlueKai believe the consumer needs to make their own trade-offs.
If you have any questions regarding this statement, please email email@example.com.