The major advantage of online advertising is the ability to target ads to
consumers based on each individual’s interests, geographic location and other personal characteristics, which ultimately makes
these ads more effective for marketers and consumers alike.
However, the fact that advertisers are able to
track people based on their interests and online behavior is understandably
off-putting to many Web users. As a result, consumers and consumer advocacy
groups have come out to demand transparency with regards to advertiser
Since this push, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has
gotten involved, most notably by introducing the Final Privacy Framework Report
to outline guidelines as to how companies can and cannot use consumer data
gathered on the Internet.
Two primary aspects of the industry’s self-regulatory
commissions, the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) and the Digital
Advertising Alliance (DAA), have both seen a significant swell of participation
over the last few years. At present, the NAI boasts over 80 different companies
To opt out or not to opt out ...
The real important figures, which are outlined in a new
infographic by Loeb & Loeb, have to do with how many consumers are actually
opting out. In the last four years, nearly 10 million users have visited NAI’s
opt-out site. That may not seem like much, but 2011 saw 5.9 million of those
visitors, nearly twice as many as 2008 to 2010 combined. In that time, 1.75 million (or about 17 percent) of these visitors have
opted out of cookie tracking.
In the end, this seems like it is going to be a real issue
for online advertisers. One Pew survey points out that as many as 73 percent of
consumers are “not OK” with search engines keeping tabs on their searches to
personalize results, which is in effect the same process that marketers use
to serve targeted ads. This begs the question: If the majority of Web users
begin to reject behavioral tracking, how can (or should) marketers attempt to
continue serving relevant ads that are as effective as their current offerings?
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