Where Third-Party Cookies Prove Themselves Again – Tornados and Abducted Children

April 17, 2013

Interest-based advertising online relies on the use of third-party cookies – placed there most often by online advertising networks that serve such ads across the Internet on behalf of many brands, large and small.


Recently, one of our founding trade organization members, Network Advertising Initiative, reported on an initiative of one its members, also a Digital Advertising Alliance participant, ValueClick.


And what ValueClick is doing is extraordinarily creative. And it is another reminder of how much Internet users have come to rely on tailored content and advertising to make the most of their web experience.


DAA is proud that the ad-funded, tailored-user experience we support can bring about such valuable innovation. By offering real-time transparency and on-demand choice at a rate of 1 trillion times per month, we educate and empower consumers of the value of interest-based ads. ValueClick's initiative is one more way that the technology behind interest-based advertising can help web users gain the most from their Internet experience.


ValueClick is applying the power of third-party cookies for two social responsibility initiatives – that of alerting individuals to tornado warnings, and helping to find abducted children through Amber Alerts.


Through an arrangement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children since May 2011, ValueClick is able to place these types of alerts – in the place of display ads – on the computer screens of persons within affected geographic areas.


Jason Bier, chief privacy officer, ValueClick, explains how this program meets a vital public awareness need in an increasingly digital age:

“Today, more than ever, people are watching recorded television or no television at all.  Social media and the Internet, in general, are ‘always on’ and often the first sources of breaking news. Recently, a man residing in Pennsylvania wrote to Congress to explain that without the partnership between ValueClick and NOAA, he would not have been notified of a tornado warning that ultimately resulted in a touch down within two miles of his home. He and his wife heard rumors of a weather event on social media, but were not formally notified of the danger approaching their area until they were served a message from the National Weather Service in the place of a banner advertisement. With that information, they were able to take precautions and contact people who might have also been in harm’s way. His letter accurately stated that:

‘This system is a great value to the modern connected masses: the earlier we know about a possible natural disaster, the more of a chance we have to prepare ourselves for it. Please give the ValueClick Emergency Messaging system all the support you can, this system has the potential to save many lives.’

ValueClick does this all through the collection of anonymous data and its ability, as a third party network, to develop the sophisticated technology and employ the creative minds that are improving the quality and the relevance of the Internet as a whole.”

These alerts, which have totaled in the hundreds of millions since May 2011, also show the awareness and responsive power of geo-targeted digital display. Engagement metrics are 1,500 percent higher than industry averages, according to Bier.


Best of all, the ValueClick program has opened its program to other online advertising networks.  For more information on the program, a video is posted here: https://www.internetalerts.org


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