I hardly ever click on banner ads, but today I was beaten into submission by the NY Times to find out more about MySpace Hypertargeting. I still can't figure out why the banner kept showing up for me...my only guess is because I read the technology section.
Hypertargeting appears to correlate data from profiles (in real-time) so that advertisers can most effectively target ads. On the surface this is not that different from Google Search advertising. But Google is far less intrusive (for now) than MySpace or Facebook which usurp data you never signed up to disclose.
From the press release:
"Our mission with HyperTargeting by MySpace was to build an ad platform that translates our massive amounts of self expressed user data into highly-targeted, interest-based segments, enabling us to better serve the exact right ad to the right person at the right time," said Michael Barrett, chief revenue officer for Fox Interactive Media.
What bothers me about both of these "services" is that they don't do anything for the user--they only help the advertiser. So, you use the service (primarily for free) knowing that you will get ads, which feels OK until it starts getting a little weird. For example how would advertisers know personal details and why should they be allowed to dig deeper into profiles while not expanding users rights to reject this behavior or pay their way out of it. Users are not notified that anything has changed and they keep giving advertisers more data without even knowing it. And even if users are aware of the tactics do they really understand the implications? Seems unlikely.
I have to go with Facebook Beacon as far creepier than MySpace Hypertargeting, although I have to think that MySpace has a much younger user base which makes me feel weird. Let's call it 60/40 that they are both highly questionable at this point.