Internet presence has developed to a point where close to 2.5 billion people are now connected online. More than 30% of the globe has access to go online and to share, discover and grow with people all around the word. We are using the internet to conduct over 4 billion searches per a day, which is a staggering amount of information to process. It’s clear that the internet has become a fundamental way of communication and how we do business. But, with the increasing use and information we share over the internet we often find ourselves concerned about the price we pay.
Through surfing the internet a select handful of websites are constantly building behavioral portfolios based on our activity. Behavioral trafficking refers to monitoring our activity on what we search, open, view, or even click on. This behavioral portfolio can then be used to personalize our favorite websites, remember our favorite movies, musicians or even refer similar artists we’ve never heard before. But, it also allows companies to discover where we came from, our activity on their site and where we navigate to. It’s even come to a point of what we say, who we say it to and how we say it is monitored as well. So it’s fair to say that the price we pay for making our online experience more personalized —is our privacy.
Every website seems to have a different idea of privacy, but what about the websites that you don’t visit? Behavioral trafficking is a relatively new industry where the top businesses represent around 39 billion in revenues. It’s also enforced with few regulations, rules, and a consumer protection act that is slim to none. The trafficking websites multiply through your navigation and can result in over five times the amount of websites you actually navigate to. So for every 4 or 5 websites you navigate to you can potentially be trafficked by 20 or 25 websites.
I often read that this is common knowledge on the internet, that everyone already knows companies are monitoring our behavior for marketing purposes. But, what’s most alarming is that websites can monitor you without you even navigating to their page. And as a common user of social media I found comfort in believing that my identity and personal information I share with my friends is behind a wall of privacy. However, I recently read an article entitled: “Young Vancouver Tech Firm Disrupts Ad Revenue Model: Google and Facebook Outraged.” And it brought me to question if this mentioned veil of privacy existed and what the definition of privacy actually is. How can users of the most popular social networks in the world find comfort in their privacy when companies like Vancouver start-up, My Viral Web are disrupting the order by unveiling the audience? Allowing marketers to pinpoint their focus on the target audience and capitalize of our personal information.
So I checked out this new kid on the block and found that the company consists of multiple marketing platforms such as email, SEO, analytics and social media. However, I found the social media platform most interesting as it filters through billions of mentions to target an individual, based on their demographics, activities, interests, opinions and sentiment. So does this wall of privacy actually exist, or is it just an illusion? Clearly, companies like this are changing the way we think of marketing research as they have access to our pictures, demographic profiles, activities, favorite artists, Saturday hangouts and even Sunday activities. Things like this creep –me out, I can only hope that practices like this will be on the radar of privacy advocates and for clarity to be brought to the table; so we can finally be more confident in what we share.