Proclivity Systems: They know “how much you want to pay” (yikes)

April 22, 2009

Maybe it’s hype, but there’s some pretty bullish talk coming from behavioral targeting firms.  A recent favorite attributable to Sheldon Gilbert CEO of Proclivity:

“We don’t guess, we figure you out and know what you want and how much you want to pay,” said Sheldon Gilbert, 33, CEO and founder of Proclivity, a data tracking system that provides the clients with their customers’ shopping interests, purchasing likelihoods and level of expenditure.

Behavioral targeting not only records the purchase information, it also traces every step of someone’s online activity. “The massive change is to track micro behavior, such as the blogs you read and the community Web sites you browse. We collect the data, and based on your behavior, we analyze you and know what you want before you actually make the purchase.”

via Future of Media: Online Advertising: We Have The Basics Ready (emphasis mine)

sheldonI love how a single quote may inspire wildly different reactions from ad-industry advocates (glee) and privacy advocates (horror). Although I’m all about meaningful choice and self-regulation, I will admit to being quite unnerved by Gilbert’s overt promise to charge me more for something if my behavior indicates willingness to pay. I will gladly sacrifice “more relevant advertising” for lower prices.

Note to self:  after we open up privacychoice2.0 more broadly, we will be working on the “ideal” privacy policy undertaking for behavioral targeting services.  Perhaps it includes an undertaking never to use behavioral data for the purpose of determining a price?

PS This was the first time I visited the Proclivity Systems web site. Couldn’t find a privacy policy.  And of the 44 pages indexed in Google, no mention whatsoever of the word “privacy”.  Okay, so privacy isn’t “top of mind” at Proclivity (or apparently, to their customers), but no policy statement at all?  Do they not collect or handle consumer information?  How about visitors to their website?


3 Responses to “Proclivity Systems: They know “how much you want to pay” (yikes)”

  1. Internet Analyst Says:

    i dont know how this company got funded. They use cookies and an algorithm to come up with these statistics.If a large group of people purchase a product it doesn’t necessarily mean your chances of selling the product is increased by putting the product on sale and spamming customers who may have clicked on a link on your website. Trends change and so do people and these statistics become obsolete. It does not work to group people in categories and assume they will follow. I got an email for a sale for victoria secret underwear and i am a male, so there are flaws. Do yourself a favor turn off your cookies this is a dot com bust.

  2. I agree it looks like this company never really bothered to spend any money on research or quality assurance practices.

  3. Proclivity insider Says:

    We (Proclivity Systems) work with retailers with e-commerce sites Barneys and install scripts on their webserver ( or have our clients send us their nightly feeds from web econometric collection agencies like Omniture/Coremetrics), and loads these logs into it’s scoring algorithm to see what our client’s end consumers want to buy. It scores buying probability by the click behavior of the site’s visitor – such as the department, category, and products that the users clicks on, when, how often, etc. The engine is per user specific and doesn’t take into account group purchase behavior.

    We don’t have our own privacy policy because, we piggy back on the retailer’s ecommerce site so they essentially collect the data according to their privacy policy and pass it on to us

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