DHH (of Basecamp and Ruby on Rails fame) wrote a blog post in May titled Targeted ads are staggeringly unpopular so we should ban them. The basic premise of the post was that people hate being tracked online and so many people have opted out of tracking that it’s clear the practice is so unpopular that it’s time to be banned. I think DHH is right about tracking being so clearly unpopular something needs to be done. I don’t think banning targeted advertising is the right thing to do though. The fact that I used to work for an email marketing company (whose product has since been shut down) that promoted targeted email marketing messages probably may have influenced that position, but I think the problem is less the act of targeting an ad, and more how we go about targeting.
Targeted advertising isn’t the problem, but cross-site tracking is