Microsoft did something that’s causing a ruckus in the digital ad industry. To me, it’s a logical, consumer-friendly move that is in line with best-practices. To others, it’s…
That quote is from the head of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the move in question is to turn on “Do Not Track” in the new version of Internet Explorer. Another group – the Digital Advertising alliance (the IAB is a founding member) began a campaign earlier this year to inform consumers about interest-based advertising and how to take greater control of their online privacy. According to the boilerplate in their press releases
These associations and their thousands of members are committed to developing effective self-regulatory solutions to consumer choice in online behavioral advertising.
One last quote:
A default setting that automatically blocks content violates a consumer’s right to choose, and doesn’t factor in the need for digital businesses to innovate and thrive economically.
That’s from the IAB’s official response just in case you think I’m making this up. However, we’ve finally got to the truth: this is about commerce and not about consumer choice.
As a digital marketing person I’m certainly aware of the benefits some tracking technologies bring to consumers, who might not even understand that they’re seeing more interesting ads and offers because of it. However, I also know that most users do not change the default settings on their browsers (ever wonder why those deals to make certain pages the default home or search page are worth so much?). Apparently, the DAA only supports consumer choice when the default is set to “on”.
This isn’t about blocking ads or blocking content. It doesn’t block cookies. It’s a browser setting that sends a message to every website you visit saying you prefer not to be tracked. While that flag is optional for sites and ad nets to obey, it’s gaining momentum with Twitter embracing it. To me it’s about protecting consumers, even those who don’t know they need it and I don’t buy that defaulting the consumer’s choice to be the way you want it as a business is necessarily the best, or even the right, way.
Unfortunately, the new version of the the latest proposed draft of the Do Not Track specification published Wednesday requires that users must choose to turn on the anti-behavioral tracking feature in their browsers and software. That means that IE10 will be out of compliance with the standard and, therefore, ad nets and others are free to ignore the browser setting.
I’m always sad when smart people do dumb things such as choosing their businesses over their users. Let’s see where this leads but I don’t think the conversation is over. Do you? Where do you come out on this?