Friday, November 17, 2017

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What is Online Profiling
Online Profiling is the activity of watching what your website visitors and online customers are doing on your website. It allows you to watch how long they spend on your website, what they read maybe even what they think. This may seem harmless enough, after all you don’t know who your online visitors are or where they are…. right? Well not quite.

Your IP address is allocated to your internet session by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and they know where you live. You're ahead of me aren’t you?

The other concern is that perhaps at some point a visitor to your site entered an email address to request a newsletter. Again fair enough – but what if you “cookied” their email address – that means stored it in their computers hard disk so that the next time they visit your site you can see that it’s Bill from Maidenhead by looking at the cookie. Over time that means that you can get a fair idea that Bill from Maidenhead is really interested in your products related to Dinosaurs, and if you know that then you can send mail, email, and even serve up personalised webpages that promote Dinosaurs.

Of course cookies can be deleted so that’s that sorted…..right? Nope!

As you store the cookie you can keep a central copy so that when Bill from Maidenhead logs in you have a central copy on your server to keep you up to date with his behaviour. That's why all these cookie warnings keep popping up on websites.


Where is online profiling of website visitors going next
Make no mistake about it – online profiling of website visitors is here to stay. Search Engine technology is already shifting to a model where searches will be manipulated to give you the information that they think you want.

For instance if you are a keen angler when you search for “fish” your search will return great places to go fishing. Or if you are a cook then you’ll get great search results that show dishes to cook using fish. Get it? Search Engines can profile you by looking at the data that most interests you and they can keep you happy by serving up specific search results that meet your interests the best. 

With such focussed searches it will be hard to resist from a business and personal viewpoint. Online advertising will deliver a genuine "market of one" long the Holy Grail of many large organisations - particularly financial institutions.


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Profiling online visitors to your website
 

 

 
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