Where do you draw the line between behavioral targeting and privacy issues?

Behavioral TargetingYou probably know by now that I’m a huge fan of behavior targeting. It is an effective method of reaching consumers precisely because it lets marketers provide relevant information to those who are likely interested. This can be beneficial to consumers as well because it improves the relevancy of the advertising they see when viewing online content.

However, there continues to be healthy debate about how much consumer information should marketers have. The New York Times recently reported on  how the new head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, David C. Vladeck, is taking a much tougher look at where the line between relevancy and privacy is drawn. The frameworks that we’ve been using historically for privacy are no longer sufficient, Mr. Vladeck said. He believes Sears stepped over it and got them to settle charges recently.

So what should a marketer do with this uncertainty? I believe three things are in order:

  1. Re-look at you privacy policies and make sure they are still appropriate.
  2. Assess whether the information you collect on consumers is relevant to your relationship with them. If not, don’t collect it.
  3. Continue to use behavioral targeting in a responsible way. This is not a time to over-react.

What do you think about the direction the FTC is taking? I’d love to hear your opinion.