Dec 14, 2010

Tracking privacy in online advertising

The climate is really shifting in online advertising the past few months. There is heightened awareness from the press on what behavioral information that digital advertisers are collecting. The government is responding:
the Federal Trade Commission has recommended universal “do not track” mechanism that would allow consumers to opt-out of the monitoring systems that follow users’ movements from site to site. For a gooda nalysis on the FTC ruling, see the Privacy Law blog article.

In addition, the leading web browser company, Microsoft, has announced that
the new Internet Explorer browser (IE9) –due out next year will include a “tracking protection” feature that allows users to limit third party data requests.

Meanwhile, online advertisers are trying to insure they are able to deliver effective ads, educating the public on the benefits. See the Wall St Journal blog on their planned campaign.

What are the consequences of increased privacy tools available to consumers? A Forbes magazine blogger notes that this will require marketers to be more intelligent and persuasive with messaging, and not merely rely on consumer background data stored in cookies.

I would say there is another consequence to online advertising and media placement: the premium will be contextual ad placement on relevant content areas, as opposed to websites merely statistically correlated with the advertiser's website.

One final thought ... how many consumers will take advantage of these new privacy features? There has been a mix the past few years.
The "do not call" consumer list gained a fairly high response once it came out. Email span opt out rates can get as high as 10 percent or more on a campaign, showing positive momentum. On the professional side, at first Physician "AMA opt out" of Rx tracking, on the other hand, was fiarly low at the start.

Uptake on privacy tool adoption will depend on publicity, ease of adoption, and the consumer mindset.