Contextual Marketing Practices
Search Engine Issues
Contextual marketing on the Internet often involves monitoring consumers’ behavior as they search the Internet: the software that enables this monitoring is often referred to as “spyware.” When the “spyware” notices that a search for a product or service relates to advertising that has been paid for by a third-party and which resides in the spyware’s database, the spyware serves a pop-up advertisement relevant to the search. One allegation in this case was that consumer would be confused and believe that such pop-up advertisements were in some way connected with the website that they had searched for and clicked on. The findings from a series of in-depth interviews designed to explore consumer beliefs and attitudes about the mechanisms underlying such contextual marketing practices led the parties to reach a settlement. As a follow-up to this case, Mind/Share (through its client) provided input to a national Pew Internet and American Life Survey that has helped guide industry practices.