Earlier last week, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart released new guidelines for advertisers who track consumers’ Internet use.

For many years now online advertisers have been using data from tracking tools to present individual users with ads that are related to their lifestyle and interests. You may have been checking your emails or reading an article on your laptop and wondered why it seems like most of the advertising is targeted towards you. Well, because it is, through behavioural advertising. Using information from approximately the last month, advertisers map a user’s journey including their geographical location, the websites visited, and the type of items purchased. Therefore, ads can be targeted towards an individual, and be completely relevant.

Gathering this data can bring up many questions and make some Canadians feel uncomfortable. How are they getting my information? What else are they doing with this data? How do I stop this?

When a user browses the Internet, a Cookie is dropped onto their computer on each webpage visited. Imagine a Cookie is just a yellow sticky note marking a place in a book; when your friend opens the book they can see the page you marked. An advertiser is essentially the friend who opens the book. They can piece together all the pages you visited, and then the next time you see them they may say, “Hey, I saw you read pages about travelling in Europe, and you booked a hotel in France? Have you thought of flying with airline X?”

It is possible, and very easy, to delete the Cookies on your computer, preventing advertisers from targeting ads in such a way. However, not everyone knows what Cookies are and how they are used, so we should not assume that users are already opting out if they want to.

As a PR and Marketing agency with a focus on online advertising, we at Curve see this as a real catch 22 situation. Stoddart has a valid point that users should be able to opt out of behavioural advertising on each website they visit. We want Internet users to be comfortable with the advertising they are exposed to, because then we would receive higher response rates.

On the flip side, creating opt-out functions on websites could become irritating to a user because of the amount of extra clicks that would be required while browsing. Plus, the data gathered from online tracking is not as personal as you may think. To an advertiser, a user is essentially a number, not a name. They don’t want, nor do they collect, a user’s name, address or any form of bank details. They look at your interests based on Internet browsing, any purchases made in recent weeks, your area code (not your whole number), and possibly your age.

Maybe, before strict guidelines are implemented, the first step should be a better education on what online tracking actually is. One of the reasons it was put into place (which people tend not to speak of, for some reason) is to provide the user with a better online experience more relevant to their interests and needs. From our experience, those who understand the concept and what it involves, actually welcome the relevancy in online content. I guess we’ll all have to watch Stoddart’s space to see what the next steps will be.

Among the new guidelines:

  • Users must be able to give meaningful consent to being tracked before or at the time their data is collected.
  • Users must know why and for what purpose their personal information is being collected.
  • Trackers must limit retention of data.
  • Collection of sensitive information such as medical or health data should be avoided.
  • Knowingly tracking children or using tracking technologies that people can’t turn off are off-limits.

Source: Globe and Mail

Targeting behavioural1 The Debate of Online Tracking: Catch 22 For Advertisers

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With the holiday season in full swing our attention turns to Christmas parties, and of course… shopping! Bearing this in mind, eBay has announced their research findings regarding purchase influences.

According to eBay, “40 per cent of purchases are now influenced by digital media.” Two fifths of ‘big-ticket’ purchases involve a digital channel of some form, which includes product research and sharing links between friends.

Are these findings surprising? Probably not, based on online habits and the increase use of smart phones over the last two years. However, at Curve we believe the numbers are only going to increase in 2012. Especially since social media shopping is still in its infancy. When the day arrives that more online shops offer checkouts through Facebook, is the day that 40 per cent will skyrocket!

Untitled 300x217 Digital Media Influences 40% of Purchases

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Nothing says “Feliz Navidad” like tickets to the ballet. So, if you’re struggling to find the perfect gift for that person in your life who has everything… consider gifting them tickets to THE cultural event of 2012, the National Ballet of Cuba’s Don Quixote.

Street teams were out over the weekend handing out holiday promo cards for $10 off each ticket to the February presentation of this extraordinary Canadian premiere. Check your local coffee shop for details on how you can get this discount, or contact us at Curve Communications.

The National Ballet of Cuba is one of the top ranked ballet companies in the world. Don Quixote is rarely performed because of the sheer bravura required to pull off what is considered to be one of the most technically challenging works ever created.

The ballet is presented in memory of the late impresario, David Y. H. Lui, by his long-time friend and business partner Brent Belsher. The two were working together to bring the ballet to Canada when David suddenly passed away in October.

For more information on the ballet and for tickets, visit www.cubaballet.ca.

IMG 0743 300x224 Ballet of Cuba Holiday Discount

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With each winter season comes the inevitable sniffles… but are they really inevitable? According to SinuCleanse , the makers of the modern day neti pot, sniffles and sinus congestion do NOT have to take over your life.

If you’re not familiar with the neti pot or how it works, Shaw TV reporter Rolfe Johannson recently visited Vive Naturopath in Calgary for a one-on-one demonstration on how it works. Watch his hilarious video on just how easy (and soothing) it is to use.

Vancouver’s Dr. Rhonda Low also recently featured the SinuCleanse neti pot on her CTV segment, Your Health. Dr. Low says the neti pot or “nasal washing” is a great way to naturally cure a cold or flu and regularly recommends it to her patients. Watch her story here.

Sinucleanse on CTV from Curve Communications on Vimeo.

The next time you’re feeling a cold coming on, pick up one of the three available all-natural SinuCleanse products; the Neti Pot, the Squeeze or the Kids Mist.

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Let’s face it… it was not our finest hour. But one of the few positive things to come out of the Vancouver Riot (2011 version) is the fact we WON (no, not game 7, sorry) the Esquire Magazine “Photo of the Year” as announced yesterday.

You’ll have seen the image – the couple lying in the middle of the street, surrounded by riot police, chaos and destruction; sharing a tender moment while the world crashes down around them.

There were claims the Getty Images shot was Photoshopped or that the whole thing was a setup but after the inevitable frenzied media hunt for the couple, Scott Jones and Alex Thomas were tracked down to give their side of events – and video taken from a rooftop above confirms their story.

They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time; they were knocked to the ground in a surge by the riot squad and Alex, who was terrified, was simply being comforted by her boyfriend – in Canada from Australia, where his Dad was also giving interviews to the media.

The fact the story had a happy ending – that they weren’t hurt and that it was a genuinely fragile moment in a maelstrom of insanity – makes the award a poignant one.

It might not be a sailor kissing a surprised young woman in Times Square on V.J. Day, or a lone man standing in front of a tank, but the image is from the vein of the “new iconic photograph” – published around the world in mere hours, dissected on talk shows and comedy news and representative of a memory – good or bad, in our history.

Do you have a favourite iconic photograph?

couple kissing riot in vancouver 1 Esquire Magazine Announces Photo of the Year: Vancouver Riot Kissing Couple

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