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Who’s surfing?

Who’s surfing?

Advertisers want a return on their investments for online campaigns. They want to know who’s visiting which websites, and for how long. Some online companies are willing to oblige.

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March 12, 2009 11:13 by



Websites need to be more transparent if they want to attract advertisers, says a survey by the market research company Real Opinions. According to the study, 87 percent of advertisers and marketers said that knowing visitor numbers and profiles would help influence their decision to advertise on websites.

“As the Internet allows users to follow their special interests,” Dan Healy, the CEO of Real Opinions said, “websites have the ability to accurately show how unique their visitors are and how it can match an advertiser’s target market they wish to reach with communication. It’s shouldn’t just be how many visitors a website receives, advertisers want to know the profile of these people. This in turn can provide a very cost efficient advertising model for many organizations to achieve the return on investment they seek in this economic climate.”

The survey also showed that 58 percent of advertisers and marketers have seen their budgets decline, prompting 37 percent of respondents to consider using the internet. Significantly, 50 percent of respondents said they have no plans of going online.

Websites, however, face challenges of their own: “One of the major issues facing the website audience measurement industry over recent years has been the impact of cookie deletion on website visitor computers. Take the example of someone visiting a website in the morning, deleting their cookies at midday and re-visiting this same website in the afternoon,” explained Healy.

A recent survey showed that one in three computers delete cookies at least once per day, while six in ten computers delete cookies every month.

However, for those computers that do not delete cookies, online companies such as Google are finding new ways to attract budget conscious advertisers. On Wednesday, the company announced it will use cookies to determine users’ internet habits in order to personalize the advertisements, and provide marketers with a targeted audience.

“If a user is a keen traveler and visits lots of travel sites, Google could show them more travel-related ads,” the search giant said in a statement.

“We believe that ads are a valuable source of information that can connect people to products, services and ideas that interest them. By making ads more relevant and improving the connection between advertisers and our users, we can create more value,” it said.

Exploiting users’ information, however, is likely to be met with opposition from organizations that fight for users’ privacy.

‘Google might well hype their targeting system as a boon to pet owners, but the reality is that the service will track just about everything you do and everything you’re interested in, no matter how personal or sensitive,’ Privacy International head Simon Davies told the BBC.

However, with the financial crisis crippling global economies, the likelihood that online companies will protect internet users’ privacy at the risk of losing out on precious advertising money is slim.



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