December 31, 2010–It appears that online advertisements for Mazda and McDonald’s are selling more than shiny new cars and happy meals. According to a Courthouse News Service article “McDonald’s, CBS, & Microsoft Mine Data from Web Ads, Class Claims,” these companies, along with CBS and Microsoft, have had a class action lawsuit brought against them in Federal Court for using online games and advertising campaigns to mine data and invade privacy.
The suit claims that the defendants helped Interclick, a company that specializes in behavior advertising, “augment its profile database with individual-level information it acquired in the process of optimizing and measuring the success of advertising campaigns.” In addition, the consumer information provided “was merged into Interclick’s consumer profile database and subsequently used for behavioral targeting on behalf of all defendants.”
With such practices underfoot, many think the Federal Trade Commission’s Congressional testimony for a “Do Not Track” consumer-level browser setting can’t come quickly enough. This presents a conundrum, because such an option would be a major shot in the heart of marketing-based analytics, but could do wonders for consumer confidence in the industry.