In like a lion, out like a lamb

Looks like the first serious foray into ISP-based behavioral targeting is finally sputtering to a close. Spooked by misinformed and often hostile congressional attention, most of NebuAd’s customers have dumped the company and beat a hasty retreat, and today their CEO surfaced working somewhere else. What is the take-away in all this? To use a popular term, there appears to have been a distinct lack of “vetting”; introducing this kind of disruptive/invasive technology requires a broad base of support, it’s not just about commercial validation, but about buy-in from influencers prior to pushing the product out the door. Careful legal review, not just from the “technically correct” point of view, but from the “how to socialize this with people who can shut you down on a whim” perspective would have probably been a good idea. Privacy advocates notwithstanding, I think most people would agree that targeted ads are a good idea (or do you prefer spam?), but like a lot of early stage start-ups, there was way too much focus on the technology, not nearly enough focus on the benefits, which would have probably been significant. On the other hand, those of us with an interest in this space now know what to avoid, so again, a big thanks to NebuAd for setting off the traps.

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