When you use supermarket loyalty cards, enter contests, complete warranty registrations, apply for credit cards, and subscribe to newsletters, businesses automatically store personal data about you, your transactions, and your preferences in their marketing databases. They often use this data to analyze sales, develop advertising campaigns, and solicit more business from you. Unbeknownst to many consumers, some companies also sell or rent this data to other businesses for the purpose
of developing interest-based or online behavioral advertising. Consumers can refuse to receive targeted email messages and marketing materials, but they often must search the websites or paper forms for check boxes to indicate these opt-out preferences. Some consumer advocates view this practice as an invasion of privacy and urge businesses to default to not adding consumers’ information to databases unless the consumer opts in to receive additional materials. Research This: Visit at least two websites that include opt-in or opt-out provisions and read the disclosure notices. What steps can you take to remove yourself from databases? Which organizations help protect consumers and offer information on maintaining online privacy? Then, search for at least two marketing companies that provide online direct advertising campaigns. How do these companies use databases to match consumers’ buying preferences with targeted offers?