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The recent Office of Fair Trading report into data privacy has thrust behavioural targeting into the spotlight again.

While I am completely behind the call by the Internet Advertising Bureau for more transparency into the use of behavioural targeting, people must learn the difference between behavioural targeting and behavioural advertising practices.

When most people think of behavioural targeting, they imagine it applies to ads pushed on them based on their complete online history. In fact it mainly applies to browsing behaviour on one site, so that the site owner can understand the most relevant content to present to users.

Profile building initially only involves anonymous records but, as the visitor builds trust in the brand or site and provides more information about themselves, these profiles become richer and will allow the site to contact the visitor with new content, messages and advertising.

The difference between this and behavioural advertising is that the information is not passed to third parties. Sites doing this should declare it to users and give visitors the chance to opt out.

Malcolm Duckett, CEO, Magiq

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