Monster.com®, the leading job matching engine and flagship brand of Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: MWW), is now allowing its millions of job seekers to have the opportunity to update their behavioral targeting settings, thus ensuring even more relevant matches. In a move that recognizes users want more transparency and control over how their information is used, Monster is introducing new Career Ad Network ads that contain an Interest Based Ad hyperlink that will prompt seekers to refine their cookie that will be stored on their own computers. According to Monster this will allow for more relevant results. Seekers can also opt out of behavioral targeting by Career Ad Network altogether.
The Career Ad Network uses patent pending behavioral targeting technology to reach candidates where they spend time online and present them with relevant job ads. A search of United States Patent and Trademark Office databases did not reveal any published application that appears to coincide with behavioral targeting technology assigned to Monster. In fact, a search for patents and patent applications owned by Monster Worldwide revealed only two issued patents. U.S. Patent No. 7,836,060, titled “Multi-way nested searching,” and U.S. Patent No. 7,870,117, titled “Constructing a search query to execute a contextual personalized search of a knowledge base.”
While it might be surprising that Monster has only two issued patents, the fact that a patent application claimed to be pending cannot be located is not unusual. Patent applications do not ordinarily publish until 18 months after the filing date of the earliest claim of priority (i.e., the earliest filing date applicable to the application, which can sometimes be an earlier filed provisional patent application or earlier filed foreign patent application). It is also possible for a patent application in the United States to remain unpublished unless or until it actually issues as a patent. To continue to keep filed patent applications secret foreign filing rights would need to be waived, meaning the applicant was forgoing the right to file a patent application to cover the invention outside the United States. While forgoing foreign filing rights is not common it does happen from time to time in the computer implemented methods (i.e., software and/or Internet innovations) because getting patent protection for such inventions outside the United States can be varying degrees of difficult to impossible. Thus, keeping a patent application secret until it issues can leave open the possibility of keeping the core innovation a trade secret int he event a patent cannot be obtained.
Returning to the Monster innovation, the Career Ad Network uses anonymous web browsing and job search behavior to show relevant ads. Whether job seekers are actively looking for a job or just open to new opportunities, Monster’s innovation presents relevant jobs outside of the traditional job search environment. This allows seekers to learn about opportunities and click directly to the employer’s job posting to apply.
“Consumers appreciate the benefits of behavioral targeting when it is used in a purposeful way such as to help them find a great job,” said Joran Lawrence, senior product manager for Monster Worldwide. “At the same time we want to be proactive to help people understand how behavioral targeting works and then empower them to gain control over their settings so that they can either gain additional benefits through more relevant results or opt-out.”
According to a recent study conducted by Monster, many job seekers are currently unfamiliar with behavioral targeting. But 83 percent of job seekers polled also said they prefer to see job ads that are matched to their unique skills and experience. In fact, when offered the ability to control their cookie settings, half of the job seekers polled chose to update their cookie settings, while only 15 percent chose to opt out of behavioral targeting entirely, suggesting that there is widespread interest in the targeting approach offered by Monster.
Under the heading “What does the Career Ad Network cookie reveal about me?” Monster explains on its website:
What does the Career Ad Network cookie reveal about me??
The Career Ad Network cookie identifies Web browsing patterns that would tend to make certain jobs more attractive to you than others. This is called “Behavioral Ad Targeting”.
Career Ad Network Ad Targeting uses:
anonymous browsing patterns – your ZIP code, attributes of jobs you’ve viewed previously such as title, career level, and educational level, and job search terms you’ve entered on Monster and Monster partner sites.
Career Ad Network Ad Targeting does not use:
information from your Monster profile or any other personally identifiable information – such as your name, your address, your job title, or the schools you attended.
Time will tell what the patent application contains and whether a patent will be granted. In the meantime, however, anything that can assist job seekers to more quickly locate potentially relevant jobs seems like a worthwhile technology to investigate. With unemployment still well above 9% and so many Americans out of work anything that can facilitate connecting job seekers with employers in a more efficient manner seems like a good thing to me.