What targeted advertising and nuclear power have in common

Amidst all the concern over targeted advertising and consumer privacy, I did a guest piece for Adotas on the need for a new model for targeted mobile advertising. Advertisers’ desire for more and more scalable targeted advertising is going to keep pushing the boundaries in this space. Consumer tracking and deep profile building, the core of behavioral targeting, have serious privacy implications because they can be misused. Greed and stupidity will lead to a string of high-profile privacy violations. That’s unless the advertising industry learns something from the nuclear power industry.

A nuclear power plant is a wonderful thing. Really scary, dangerous things happen inside nuclear reactors but only clean electricity leaves the power station. How? Through a strategy of containment–in short, concrete. Nuclear power plants need on average 190 cubic meters of concrete per megawatt of generated power. The lesson is simple. It’s OK to do some really dangerous things, provided that (a) you do them in a few known locations and (b) you take appropriate precautions to make sure that none of the bad stuff leaks out.

That’s my analogy for targeted advertising. It’s OK to do sophisticated consumer tracking and deep profile building provided that (a) it’s done by a handful of well-known parties subject to an appropriate level of scrutiny and (b) the services they provide to the rest of the industry, e.g., ad targeting, are certifiably clean, that is, privacy-safe.

The Internet is a lost cause. The cat’s out of the bag. TV and mobile still have a chance. Canoe Ventures is going after this for the cable guys. Who’s going to do it for mobile?

About Simeon Simeonov

Entrepreneur. Investor. Trusted advisor.
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3 Responses to What targeted advertising and nuclear power have in common

  1. John Clippinger says:

    I completely concur and I think that the tech is there to provide the 190 cubic meters of cement per user. That is only part of the problem – as optics and authoritative assurance will be credible – and rapid measures for corrective recourse.

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