The title doesn’t refer to you guys, of course, unless you’re a tone-deaf marketer. You know the ones I mean. The folks who call during dinner despite the fact that you’re on every “do not call” list known to mankind. The idiots who tie up your fax machine with offers for last minute trips or insurance you don’t need. “Oh, he means spammers” you say. Not just them. Marketers who ignore our requests to be left alone. Maybe we’re all a bit guilty and a discussion beginning to heat up brings it all to the fore.
The discussion is the one about “do not track” and this is one that affects all of us either as consumers, marketers, or both. USA Today ran this article about it but the conversation has been raging for quite a while. We all remember Facebook Beacon, right? The launch the other day of Disconnect, a browser extension that stops major third parties and search engines from tracking the webpages you go to and searches you do is yet another step. While many of the browsers have “no track” features built in, in many cases users have to dig deep to figure out how to get them to work.
Here’s the thing. Many folks think highly-targeted ads are great and provide useful information while minimizing seeing stuff you don’t care about. Many others think they’re really creepy. Either way, the user should have the choice, right? I’m shocked I still have to have the discussion with business people about best-practices and how defaulting to opting users in is not one of them.
This quote – “Currently, consumers don’t know how information gathered about them when they go on-line is used and have no opportunity to correct the data if it is wrong” – from a consumer watchdog sums it up. So does this thinking from an industry newsletter: If the ad industry doesn’t want people to opt out, the answer isn’t lobbying against do-not-track mechanisms, but convincing consumers that targeted ads provide benefits.
Where are you on this personally and professionally? You might be asked sooner than you think!