I Want To Watch

Yet another brouhaha over privacy has reared its ugly head and the group which represents marketers – the Association Of National Advertisers (ANA) – has weighed in on the topic. In a blog post entitled “Don’t Bother Us With The Facts“, the ANA talks about a new set of privacy rules contemplated by the FCC. Their quarrels have to do with the complexity of the rules and the timeframe given for analysis and comment before the new rules go into effect. That, however, isn’t our topic today.

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The thing I’d like to discuss is a quote at the end of the post. The new rules are going to be imposed on broadband providers – generally, your cable company or telephone provider. It says:

Most importantly, ANA will remind the FCC that “there’s no free lunch,” and that consumers receive information today at little or no cost in return for companies’ ability to reach them via directed advertising that surveys show are acceptable to consumers. This approach has fostered a healthy, vibrant, and economically valuable Internet and mobile media ecosystem that must not be allowed to be severely undermined.

I have an issue with that since the topic isn’t monetization of websites and content but the ability of ISP’s to make extra money capturing and selling information about their customers. These customers (that’s us, folks) pay handsomely for our broadband service, a service which is generally inferior to that found in other countries with respect to speed and bandwidth caps (we rank somewhere in the low teens in terms of countries ranked by average speed). Is it too much to ask that we give permission to yet another entity monitoring and monetizing our behavior?

Another lobbyist stated that requiring consumers’ opt-in consent to behavioral targeting, would prevent broadband providers “from efficiently monetizing online data in the same way that Google and Facebook have long done, with astounding consumer benefits.” Sorry, my friend. Google and Facebook provide a free service. Anyone you know receiving free broadband access in return for being tracked?

Unless and until everyone involved in marketing recognizes that consumers should control what data they give to which entities in return for what benefit, problems such as ad blocking aren’t going to go away. The customer is in control now, and tracking them just because you want to watch what they’re up to can undermine even the best marketing.  Do you agree?

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