Advertising is about to get very personal. Marketers are taking tools that they already use to track your Internet surfing and are preparing to combine that information with cell-phone customer data that include not just the area where you live but also the street you're standing on. The aim is to target the exact person who is most likely to buy a product at the precise moment they're most likely to buy it. It's the ad industry's dream come true: a perfect personalized pitch. For privacy advocates, though, this combination of behavioral and geographic targeting is an Orwellian nightmare.
Campaigns that combine Web data with location information to target ads from nearby businesses to individuals are just a couple of years away, mobile marketers say. Already, mobile services use area codes, Zip Codes, and even Global Positioning System (GPS) data to return results for nearby businesses in response to a search for, say, coffee shops.
Nowhere to hide??