Data snatchers! The booming market for your online identity

A huge, mostly hidden industry is raking in billions collecting, analyzing, sharing information you put on the Web. Should you be worried?

By Mark Sullivan, PC World |  Security, big data, Facebook

Cookie Monsters: Take a dive into your browser’s Settings menu, and you may soon discover how liberally some websites distribute their cookies on the computers of site visitors. Dictionary.com, for instance, dropped 55 cookies in our test browser after just one visit to that free site. Placing the cookies were Dictionary.com itself and a number of the site’s ad network and data provider partners, including DoubleClick, Google, and Yahoo.

Political campaigns are combining online and offline data to form a detailed picture of prospective voters, and looking for clues that a voter might be swung by a well-targeted ad. Campaigns from both major political parties are hiring political advertising and consulting firms like Aristotle, CampaignGrid, Rap­­Leaf, and TargetedVictory, all of which have amassed personal and political data on millions of people.

This data is gleaned from voting information in the public record--party affiliation, and how often the person has voted over the years.

Firms can combine that offline political data with other offline data such as real estate records, and then combine that with a subject's online activities, such as social network profiles, online shopping histories, contributions to charities and political causes, and ar­­ticles read (the types of articles you read say a lot about your political leanings--whether you're pro-guns or pro-choice, say).

Political campaigns will spend more than ever before on advertising in the 2012 elections, according to a report from Borrell Associates, and they will spend far more on online advertising than in the past. Campaigns will spend a total of $9.8 billion (much of it Super PAC money) in 2012, up from $7 billion in 2008, and online advertising spending will rise to $160 million in 2012 from $22 million in 2008.

Still, online political advertising remains in its infancy. While TV will get 57 cents of each advertising dollar spent on 2012 campaigns, online advertising will get only 1.4 cents, the Borrell Associates report says.

Online Advertising 3.0

The online advertising business is powered by personal information. In fact, the industry is being defined by an arms race to develop both new ways to collect more (and more accurate) personal data and better methods to track and analyze people's online choices and behaviors.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

SecurityWhite Papers & Webcasts

See more White Papers | Webcasts

Answers - Powered by ITworld

ITworld Answers helps you solve problems and share expertise. Ask a question or take a crack at answering the new questions below.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question