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Marketers Watch as Friends Interact Online


Tailored Pitches

Source: eMarketer

Birds of a feather flock together. Or, in the Internet age, a customer's friend is a potential customer.

Embracing those truisms, some big marketers, including Sprint and eBay, are turning to small start-ups to help them tap social-networking data to find would-be clients among the friends and acquaintances of existing customers, to the dismay of some privacy advocates.

EBay, for instance, used online tracking technologies to identify customers who browsed or shopped for products in the clothing, shoes and accessories section of its site. It then turned to New York-based start-up 33Across, which analyzed data from social-networking sites to map out the connections between the customers eBay had identified and other Web surfers, in order to serve up ads at the right time and place.

New York-based 33Across tracks how consumers interact with one another—commenting on posts or sharing messages, for instance—across about 20 sites, online networks and third-party application companies, which build software like games and quizzes for social-networking sites. 33Across says those sites reach a total of 100 million monthly unique U.S. visitors.

For example, if an eBay customer shared a movie review with an acquaintance, 33Across identified that connection and places a cookie, or anonymous string of tracking data, on the acquaintance's browser so that they later could be targeted with a relevant ad whenever they visit certain sites.

From The Wall Street Journal
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