For those who want to take Internet privacy matters into their own hands, there is a new service called Bynamite that aggregates information advertisers have collected about you in an easily managed personal profile. In addition, the site allows you to delete or add interests and send updated preferences back to ad networks and opt out of networks that donâ€™t provide users with control of their interests. Bynamite purports to represent the consumer without profiting from information sent back to ad networks, and it operates via a program you download that automatically attaches to your browser.
What sets Bynamite apart from many privacy watchdogs is that the service generally embraces hyper-targeted advertising and has no qualms with sites like Google, Facebook, and Amazon that collect a wealth of information on its users. Rather Bynamite seeks to educate consumers on how advertisers view them and empower users to tap into the potential monetary value of their personal information.
According to a New York Times interview with the companyâ€™s founders, Bynamite hopes to eventually reshape online advertising by getting companies to give rewards and discounts to consumers that actively provide information on their interests and buying habits. This could be a win-win situation where buyers happily offer coveted information marketers want and view relevant hyper-targeted ads in a transparent environment devoid of â€œcreepyâ€ big brother ads.
After setting up my Bynamite profile, I was surprised that roughly 25% of the information ad systems pulled on my interests is inaccurate. For example, I have little interest in motorcycles which appeared prominently in my profile. The need for better information was indication enough that it would be worthwhile for advertisers to incentivize users to engage in the profiling process.
And why stop at just interests? With the right incentives I would probably give other helpful information like the style of advertisements I enjoy most (humorous) and even a list of my favorite brands and advertisements.
While Bynamite has yet to tap into a revenue stream, its ideas on the future of online advertising are fresh and forward-thinking. Rather than collect personal information on people behind the scenes, why not break down the wall between seller and buyer and incentivize consumers to collaborate on a better ad experience? Sometimes the simple solution is also the most brilliant– if you want to know something, why not just ask?