Pinterest Profiles to Pinpoint Pinheads' Picks
CREDIT: Pinterest: Anilú Magloire
What websites do you look at? Which ones do you revisit? How long do you spend on each page? Your browser history is a valuable resource, especially for marketers, who are always looking for ways to sell you more stuff.
Pinterest is the latest website to announce a new user profiling feature. In a blog post Friday (July 26), the popular social sharing website announced that it's about to roll out a new feature: The site will create profiles of both users and non-users that will help Pinterest deliver targeted content on an individual level.
For the un-Pinitiated, Pinterest is a fast-growing social networking site that lets users create "boards" on which they can "pin" images, video and articles that they collect around the Web.
Pinterest will use this data to create custom recommendations on its own site.
Not a Pinterest user? Pinterest's new feature allows it to profile you as well, though in a more limited way. Every time you visit a website that has a "Pin It!" button or other type of Pinterest Widget (and most websites have them these days) Pinterest will be able to gather the same data—IP address, length of visit, cookies—and use them to build an anonymous profile of your habits.
For example, if you are a Pinterest user and you visit a news site about comic books that has a Pin It widget somewhere on the page, Pinterest will recommend comic book-themed boards to you.
If you're not a Pinterest user and you visit that same comic book blog and then, weeks or months later, decide to sign up for a Pinterest account, the site will use the profile it's been creating about you to recommend those comic book-themed boards to you.What's more, Pinterest tracking defaults to "on." So Pinterest is going to track your Web browsing unless you take steps to stop it. If you're a Pinterest user, you can disable the feature in Pinterest's settings.
Non-Pinterest users can prevent these and other types of data gathering by setting their browser to "Do Not Track." When this setting is activated, every website you visit will be given a notification asking it not to track you. Websites should then respect your wishes and not gather cookies and other data from your visit, but it's still entirely within a website's rights to ignore the "Do Not Track" message.
That's why Pinterest specifies in its blog post that it supports Do Not Track. Not everyone does, and it's tricky to figure out which websites ignore Do Not Track requests.
Twitter implemented a similar feature in 2012 that uses data collected from sites with Twitter widgets to recommend new Twitter accounts to follow. Unlike Pinterest's upcoming feature, however, Twitter's doesn't seem to track non-Twitter users.