Consumer Advocacy: Ad Industry Bans Sensitive Demographics

Have you wondered why you see ads on the Web for alcohol when you’re in your 20s or ads for refinancing after you purchased a property or even ads for credit reports when you’ve visited a Web site about credit scoring? That’s called Ad-Targeting. After much debate, the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) agreed to not target specific sensitive demographics.

Consumer PrivacyNAI has proposed to their publishers (that is, AOL’s Platform-A, Google’s DoubleClick, etc.) that they discard targeting data about the following topics:

  • HIV/ AIDS status
  • Sexually-related conditions (e.g., sexually transmitted diseases, erectile
  • dysfunction)
  • Psychiatric conditions
  • Cancer status
  • Abortion-related
  • Sexual behavior/orientation/identity (i.e., Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender)
  • Criminal victim status (e.g., rape victim status)

And they have considered these demographics to be used carefully:

Age, addictions (e.g., drugs, alcohol, gambling), alienage or nationality, criminal history, death, disability, ethnic affiliation, marital status, philosophical beliefs, political affiliation or opinions, pregnancy, race identification, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), trade union membership

I think this is a step in the right direction; however, anyone who has any experience in regulatory practices knows that this is merely an attempt to avoid government regulation. If an Advertising committee can say, “Look, we have these guidelines, we have standards,” Congress may just believe them. Let’s say advertisers agree to do this, there are minimal checks-and-balances to ensure all advertisers are behaving well with the data they obtain.

Targeting = Discrimination
I can’t seem to understand how it’s “appropriate” to target race or nationality. Does this mean that African Americans would receive ads for Pay Day Loans, conversely, a Caucasian would receive an ad for Refinancing? Before you allude to alleged racism, I’m just referring to a known statistic about the predatory loan industry. I wouldn’t doubt that the Internet Ad industry is any different.

Currently, it’s unlawful for an employer to discriminate against someone for basis of race, color, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability, marital status or veteran status. Why should advertisers be allowed to do it?

Is this Consumer Advocacy?
I don’t think so. Until all the advertisers agree to make it easy to opt-out from unwanted advertising/marketing, the issue will never heir on the side of consumers. The Internet Ad industry better be on guard — it’s only a matter of time until the FTC extends their control similar to telemarketing (National Do Not Call Registry), then they will gripe a lot more about restrictions.

  • http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/080411-014238 Kevin Heisler

    What’s even more dangerous to the health of the Internet Ad Industry: search engine optimization (SEO) scams that persist because there are no SEO standards. This SEO agency near Redmond, WA was sued by the state and settled – after 4 years:

    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/080411-014238

  • http://www.joemanna.com Joe

    Kevin,

    I agree. It would be nice if advertising companies and [bad] SEOs would hold themselves to higher standards. All of us pay for their “aggressive” tactics.

    We all pay for by means of click fraud, splogs and higher amounts of noise in the social media spectrum.

    ~Joe

  • pay day loans (Tracy Rawle)

    Pay day loans can really come in handy when you need some last-minute cash. These financial institutions make getting a loan quick and easy. There is usually no credit check and the application process is short. It can be a big help when you are in a bind.

    Removed URLs and Links.
    This comment was on behalf of Tracy Rawle; “Check City” located in Provo, UT.

  • http://www.joemanna.com Joe

    I love it, a spam comment comes here to talk about Payday Loans. Take a deep breath, prepare to get owned…

    Payday Loans are intended to exploit people who don’t have prudent money management skills. They make it too easy to obtain a loan with exorbitant rates, thus predatory lending.

    If someone is in a bind, requiring them to submit to 600%+ APR loan, with the likelihood of rolling them over, they should consult a reputable financial institution to open up a personal line of credit, preferably one who they bank with.

    Just imagine if the predatory practices of the Payday Loan industry extended into home loans — the economy would be completely upside down in weeks.

    While there is “no credit check,” there is neither any benefit to these types of loans. Rest assured, that if you default on them, they will happily turn you over to collections or recover assets.

    The point of my reference alleging that Payday Loans target African Americans, was because they do. How many PDL locations have you seen in Baltimore, D.C., SW Tucson, W Phoenix; versus, Northern VA, Hamptons, NW Tucson, SE Phoenix?

    Having that said, it’s buyer beware. I’ve known people who have used a Payday Loan, but it’s playing with fire, since it’s too quick, minimal regulation, and very predatory in nature.

    The FTC has warned people to stay away from Payday Loans. It’s no surprise that Payday Loans are prohibited in Georgia and restricted in 12 other states. The collection practices entrap the customer into Check Fraud if they default (post-dating checks, etc.)

    I conclude that rather lengthy response with this:

    The Payday Loan industry is not one that can govern themselves. If they can draft it into a contract, get someone to sign it, they’ll do it. The industry has no morals or higher regard for the financial lives they touch; thus, requiring government regulation and outright banning in some jurisdictions. The Internet Ad business is no different — they would *love* to target minors, they would love to target people with health conditions, they would love to show you ads for Viagra when you are looking for sexual health tips.

    Thank you. I invite you to an open debate on the Payday Loan Industry, if indeed you aren’t a bot. I did a little Googling around, Tracy, you’ve made a considerable amount of campaign contributions for Republicans… not a surprise but that’s another topic.

    ~Joe

  • http://gunowners.org Junkyard Willie

    If only there were some sort of addition… or “extension,” as it were; for my browser. Something that would block ads. An “ad-block” type of thing, I guess is what I’m getting at.

    Seriously though, the payday loan industry is badly in need of some heavy regulation. I’m not the big government type, but in no circumstances is a 600% apr acceptable. The entire fringe economy (payday loans, check cashing, BHPH car dealers, rent-to-own, etc) is totally out of control. If I were you I wouldn’t invite “Tracy” to any sort of debate, maybe an invitation to a doctor-assisted suicide, but definitely no debating with a shill for such a reprehensible industry. Probably a bot anyway.

  • http://www.joemanna.com/ Joe

    I love it, a spam comment comes here to talk about Payday Loans. Take a deep breath, prepare to get owned…

    Payday Loans are intended to exploit people who don't have prudent money management skills. They make it too easy to obtain a loan with exorbitant rates, thus predatory lending.

    If someone is in a bind, requiring them to submit to 600%+ APR loan, with the likelihood of rolling them over, they should consult a reputable financial institution to open up a personal line of credit, preferably one who they bank with.

    Just imagine if the predatory practices of the Payday Loan industry extended into home loans — the economy would be completely upside down in weeks.

    While there is “no credit check,” there is neither any benefit to these types of loans. Rest assured, that if you default on them, they will happily turn you over to collections or recover assets.

    The point of my reference alleging that Payday Loans target African Americans, was because they do. How many PDL locations have you seen in Baltimore, D.C., SW Tucson, W Phoenix; versus, Northern VA, Hamptons, NW Tucson, SE Phoenix?

    Having that said, it's buyer beware. I've known people who have used a Payday Loan, but it's playing with fire, since it's too quick, minimal regulation, and very predatory in nature.

    The FTC has warned people to stay away from Payday Loans. It's no surprise that Payday Loans are prohibited in Georgia and restricted in 12 other states. The collection practices entrap the customer into Check Fraud if they default (post-dating checks, etc.)

    I conclude that rather lengthy response with this:

    The Payday Loan industry is not one that can govern themselves. If they can draft it into a contract, get someone to sign it, they'll do it. The industry has no morals or higher regard for the financial lives they touch; thus, requiring government regulation and outright banning in some jurisdictions. The Internet Ad business is no different — they would *love* to target minors, they would love to target people with health conditions, they would love to show you ads for Viagra when you are looking for sexual health tips.

    Thank you. I invite you to an open debate on the Payday Loan Industry, if indeed you aren't a bot. I did a little Googling around, Tracy, you've made a considerable amount of campaign contributions for Republicans… not a surprise but that's another topic.

    ~Joe