Coming Soon, A Way To Find Out How That Online Ad Knows What You Like

Last year the FTC asked online marketers to regulate targeted advertising, so in an attempt to avoid new regulatory policies the major ad industry groups have gotten together to launch a new service. Starting late summer, when a targeted ad from a participating marketer appears on your screen, you’ll be able to click a small icon somewhere on the ad and see your profile on that marketer’s site. You’ll also be able to then opt out of future ads from that ad network, reports Wired.

Although it might sound like advertisers are being brave and noble, it turns out that letting people edit their profiles is a good way to gain more information:

“[Google] said publicly that three to four times as many people customize their profiles than the number who opt out,” added [Interactive Advertising Bureau vice president Mike Zaneis]. “They’re actually getting increased consumer engagement and better profiles, and thus you can make the assumption that they’re going to have a higher click-through rate.”

At least one member of the coalition wants software in place to detect when marketers don’t participate, so they can report them to the FTC and maintain a record of good faith participation. But if it turns out that open-access to profiles just means higher quality targeting data, it’s unlikely many marketers will want to miss out.

“Targeted Ads Will Let You Spy on Them for a Change”