Industry: Ignore “Do Not Track”Written by Michael Levanduski
October 12, 2012 # 9:42 am # Industry News, Specials # No Comments
For those marketers that rely on targeted ads to get good results, the “do not track,” functions on some of the more popularly used web browsers today can cause problems. It not that marketers cannot still receive information that can be used to target ads when the function is used by consumers, but it is a problem with privacy agreements that can often lead to bad things down the road. However, the Digital Advertising Alliance, the group of numerous advertising trade associations that many marketers turn to for answers, has made a statement regarding these “do not track” features and how serious they actually are following Microsoft’s announcement that Internet Explorer 10 will come with an automatic DNT feature that is set as a default.
As reported by Ad Age, the DAA states;
“The DAA does not require companies to honor DNT signals fixed by the browser manufacturers and set by them in browsers,” the statement said. “Specifically, it is not a DAA Principle or in any way a requirement under the DAA Program to honor a DNT signal that is automatically set in IE10 or any other browser. The Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association will not sanction or penalize companies or otherwise enforce with respect to DNT signals set on IE10 or other browsers.”
As you may have noticed already, there could be some issues with the opinion of the DAA on the subject of essentially ignoring these “do not track” features. There are bound to be some people that start using IE 10 simply because of the fact that it has a default DNT setting. When this happens, advertisers would be indirectly going against the wishes of the user. This is a problem that could lead to some big problems regarding privacy, as many privacy advocates have always said they would back people up in these types of situations.
In an article from Ad Age, they state;
Mike Zaneis, senior VP and general counsel for the Interactive Advertising Bureau and a DAA board member, believes those points are currently moot since there is still not an agreed-upon definition of what “do not track” even means. Is it “do not collect” data as consumer and privacy advocates are pushing for, or only “do not target,” which groups such as the DAA are supporting? Or something in between? That’s one of the debates still going on inside a closely watched “tracking protection working group” within the W3C web standards body. That group last met face to face last week in Amsterdam.
So, this permission given from the DAA to ignore the “do not track” settings could cause problems, but these problems may be irrelevant. The opinions on the subject go both ways. Since DNT is not specific about its restrictions, marketers could be doing nothing wrong in still targeting web users. Either way, privacy advocates will probably find some way to pin marketers against the wall for it. I’m sure we will hear more about the results of this statement once more marketers start to heed the advice from the DAA.