Expect More “Effective” Privacy Measures in 2011

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Aug 29, 2012
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FireFox and Google Chrome browsers made headlines this week when they announced new “plug ins” that would effectively screen users from being targeted by advertisers and marketers. The “Keep My Opt Outs” plugin for Chrome is an extension for users who aren’t “comfortable with personalization of the ads they see on the web”. Google calls it a “one-step, persistent opt-out of personalized advertising and related data tracking performed by companies adopting the industry privacy standards for online advertising.” FireFox and Google Chrome browsers made headlines this week when they announced new “plug ins” that would effectively screen users from being targeted by advertisers and marketers. The “Keep My Opt Outs” plugin for Chrome is an extension for users who aren’t “comfortable with personalization of the ads they see on the web”. Google calls it a “one-step, persistent opt-out of personalized advertising and related data tracking performed by companies adopting the industry privacy standards for online advertising.” This follows on the heels of the announcements made by the IAB and DMA to voluntarily self-regulate as part of the National Advertising Initiative (NAI). The NAI centers around an “Advertising Option Icon”, triangular icon indicating program participation, which is to be displayed in or near online advertisements or on Web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. By clicking on it consumers will be able to link to a clear disclosure statement regarding the data collection and use practices associated with the ad. Consumers will also be presented with an easy-to-use opt-out mechanism, so they may not be targeted by that advertiser in future. However, while the NAI is an initiative adopted and paid for by marketers and advertisers on a voluntary basis, these new privacy plug-ins must be adopted and installed by consumers in order to be effective. At this time, only the Google privacy plug-in is available for Chrome, which is only used by 12.4% of the US online population. Firefox, which has 26.9% of the browsing population, does not have a definitive release date for their user-secured privacy technology. It’s unlikely that these kind of “opt outs” will be used by more than a very small percentage of the population, who is tech savvy enough to use one of these browsers, and install the plug ins. Valleywag, Gawker Media’s tech blog, took an even more cynical approach to this show of privacy protection. A post written on January 24th observed that “Google itself is easily the biggest perpetrator of precisely the sort of tracking this software is designed to prevent. Its advertising wing, DoubleClick, has trackers on 70 of the top 100 websites, a ubiquity second only to Google Analytics. The DoubleClick tracker follows you around the web and targets ads at you based on your surfing habits. It also builds up a demographic profile of you and targets ads that way. Google trackers also target ads at you based on searches you’ve run on Google.com. Finally, the indiscreet configuration of Google’s search engine is essential in providing your search keywords to all ad trackers; Google stubbornly refuses to change this setup.” The Gawker observation, while extreme, is likely more accurate, and therefore more relevant for marketers and advertisers. Google also seeks to bring back display advertising, an initiative for which the user of targeting and customized ads will be crucial, in order to show improved click through rates. Wide range adoption of privacy protection software could detract from display advertising success. Similarly, effective blocking of cookie and tracking data could prevent DSP’s and ad exchages such as Yahoo’s Right Media, or MDC’s Varick Media, from effectively targeting and bidding on impressions to consumers most likely to convert. Just as a low buy-in rate from advertisers has resulted in an absence of the NAI’s triangular icons “in the wild”, a similarly low install rate from consumers will likely keep these new privacy measures from impacting ad revenues in 2011. IMS will continue to work with new anonymized targeting technology to find ways to effectively reach the ideal customers for our clients. We will also continue to balance targeting and effective personalization to ensure that it does not create the impression or perception of intrusion on consumers. Should new privacy measures arise that change our ability to reach a target market, we will advise on changes or alternate strategies. Resource links: http://searchengineland.com/browsers-to-offer-behavioral-targeting-blocking-62334 http://valleywag.gawker.com/5742225/dont-be-fooled-by-googles-fake-new-privacy
 
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