Thursday, December 11, 2008

Privacy and Relevance Battle It Out at Search Engine Strategies (SES) Chicago

Privacy protection and collection of user data took center stage on Tuesday at SES Chicago 2008. In Battle of the Browsers: Personalization or Privacy at the digital marketing conference, panelists explored the popularity of certain internet browsers along with the delicate issue of privacy on the Web. The SES event runs through December 11th at the Chicago Hilton.
"Browsers are the new gateway to the next generation of targeting," said moderator Kevin Ryan, SES Advisory Board Chair and CEO, Motivity Marketing. People tend to get upset, however, when they know data about their habits is being collected.
Recent statistics (Hitwise, October 2008) indicate that 69.77 percent of internet users have Microsoft Internet Explorer as their browser. Mozilla Firefox has 20.78 percent of the market while newcomer Google Chrome has just .83 percent.
"For the average person, it is simply bizarre to compare browsers," commented panelist Mike Grehan, Global KDM Officer, Acronym Media.
The discussion focused on a recent plea for transparency to Google by Consumer, a group concerned with the search giant's data collection. A video shown during the session featured Google CEO Eric Schmidt responding to the group's challenge by saying that performance is of utmost importance.
"It's a tradeoff - privacy versus relevance," noted Grehan.
On the privacy theme, Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, Search Engine Land, said that "the ultimate question is, who are we afraid will get their hands on all of this data?" Government, insurance companies or prospective employers were raised as potentially troubling entities.
The session turned to the increasing usage of social media applications such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, and the tremendous amount of personal information some people choose to reveal. Gary Stein, Director of Strategy, Ammo Marketing, raised the topic of social search and its increasing value as one's networks will help infuse relevance and help personalize one's searches.
For more information on SES Chicago and other shows in the series, see
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