What, really, is wrong with ad tracking?

Fascinating article in The Atlantic about a report by Professor Ryan Calo at the University of Washington on the potential harms of digital-ad targeting.

So where does that trouble lie? What are those actual harms? Calo outlines three distinct types of damages. The first are economic: market failures, not unlike others that the government has decided merit corrective regulatory measures in the past, such as the regulation of cigarette ads. But in the case of digital marketing, Calo says, the inefficiencies aren’t going to be such clear cases. Rather, the failures will come in the form of consumers being systematically charged more than they would have been had less information about that particular consumer.

It seems obvious that an asymmetry of knowledge – they know more than you do – might affect the hidden hand of the free market.

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