Real Marketing 4.1 Listening Online-Sophisticated Web Research

Subject: Business    / Marketing

Review the Real Marketing 4.1 Article on p. 116 of the textbook. Summarize the issues presented in the article in one to two paragraphs and answer the following questions including citations as support for your responses:

1. Marketers watch consumer communication and what they do online. They use this information to personalize online shopping experiences. Is this sophisticated web research or a violation of consumer privacy?

2. Are there any laws in place currently to protect consumers in this area? If not, how can consumers feel protected when surfing various sites or chatting with others online?

3. What can marketers and organizations do in order to ensure that vital consumer information is private and that consumers feel comfortable visiting their websites and participating in data research?

Required use of the following website as a guide to complete your analysis:

Real Marketing 4.1 Listening Online:
Sophisticated Web Research or Just a Little Bit
Thanks to the burgeoning world of blogs, social networks, and other Internet forums, marketers now have near­real­time access to a flood of online consumer information. It’s all there for the digging—praise, criticism, recommendations, actions—revealed in what consumers are saying and doing as they ply the Internet. Forward­looking marketers are
now mining valuable customer insights from this rich new vein of unprompted, “bottom­up” information.
Whereas traditional marketing research provides more logical consumer responses to structured and intrusive research questions, online listening provides the passion and spontaneity of unsolicited consumer opinions.
Listening online might involve something as simple as scanning customer reviews on the company’s brand site or on popular shopping sites such as or Such reviews are plentiful, address specific products, and provide unvarnished customer reactions. If customers in the market for a company’s brands are reading and reacting to such reviews, so should the company’s marketers.
At a deeper level, marketers now employ sophisticated Web­analysis tools to listen in on and mine nuggets from the churning mass of consumer comments and conversations in blogs, news articles, online forums, and social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. But beyond monitoring what customers are saying about them online, companies are also watching what customers are doing online. Marketers scrutinize consumer Web­browsing behavior in precise detail and use the resulting insights to personalize shopping experiences. For example, based on her current and past browsing behavior, a customer checking out shoes at a favorite online apparel site might also receive unsolicited “just for you” suggestions for matching accessories tailored to her specific needs and tastes. Her online shopping experience
might also depend on other browsing behaviors. For instance, more leisurely browsers—say, those shopping from home and spending lots of
time on each screen—might see more videos, features, and product descriptions. Those whose browsing behavior suggests that they might be in a hurry—say, shopping from work and clicking rapidly from screen to screen—might see simpler pages and more direct paths to checkout.
More broadly, information about what consumers do while trolling the vast expanse of the Internet—what searches they make, the sites they visit, what music and programming they consume, how they shop, and what they buy—is pure gold to marketers. And today’s marketers are busy mining that gold.
On the Internet today, everybody knows who you are. In fact, legions of Internet
companies know your gender, your age, the neighborhood you live in, what you are
saying on Facebook and Twitter, that you like pickup trucks, and that you spent, say,
three hours and 43 seconds on a Web site for pet lovers on a rainy day in January. All
that data streams through myriad computer networks, where it’s sorted, cataloged,
analyzed, and then used to deliver ads aimed squarely at you, potentially anywhere you
travel on the Internet. It’s called behavioral targeting—tracking consumers’ online
behavior and using it to target ads to them. So, for example, if you place a mobile
phone in your shopping cart but don’t buy it, you might expect to see
some ads for that very type of phone the next time you visit your favorite ESPN site to
catch up on the latest sports scores. All this is amazing enough, but the newest wave of Web analytics and targeting takes online eavesdropping even further—
from behavioral targeting to social targeting. Whereas behavioral targeting tracks consumer movements across online sites, social targeting also mines individual online social connections and conversations. Research shows that consumers shop a lot like their friends and are five times more likely to respond to ads from brands friends use. Social targeting links customer data to social interaction data from social networking sites.
So, instead of just having a ad for running shoes pop up because you’ve recently searched for running shoes (behavioral targeting), an ad for a specific pair of running shoes pops up because a friend that you’re connected to via Twitter just bought those shoes from last week (social targeting). Social targeting can even capture the dynamics of real­time conversations. For example, more than just targeting 24­ to 26­year­old males who are both sports fans and
car enthusiasts, Chevrolet made its ad message more relevant by targeting those consumers while they are talking about football on a mobile Twitter app during the Super Bowl. When they checked the app, targeted consumers saw an ad that prompted them to check out Chevy’s
Super Bowl video on YouTube.