“There’s no such thing as free lunch”

On my research paper I am going to talk about how “there’s no such thing as free lunch.” I will go through the implementations of getting what people think is a free service and explain how some people are willing to lose their privacy in exchange of saving a few bucks. I’ll present the perspectives of why target marketing can be both positive and negative. It will focus on how the concern isn’t so much that you’ll be served an ad based on where you are on the site, but more that the profiles that are developed could potentially fall into the wrong hands, and the consequences this could bring.

A survey of 1,000 consumers released last month by professors from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California-Berkeley found almost 70% were opposed to online behavioral tracking by advertisers, but when asked for the primary reasons why shoppers might not be increasing their online spending this year privacy concerns and worries about “online tracking” were named by only 0.1% of shoppers. Meaning that although people don’t like being tracked, they are not willing to give up the money they are saving. This also connects to the idea of commons knowledge, and how in today’s digital media a lot of people believe information should be free, but don’t show concern for privacy that is being lost.

I’ll also present information about the response of the Federal Trade Commission to this issue and the release of voluntary guidelines for marketers. On the other hand, the industry’s response has been to improve self-regulation, largely by adding opt-out buttons to online behavioral advertising.

I will conclude my research with the idea that more than 80% of advertising involves tracking of some sort and that behaviorally targeted advertising secured more than 2.5 times as much revenue per ad as its non-targeted counterpart. So what is more important, companies getting higher revenue, or costumers’ right of privacy?

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