Consumers' privacy falls on marketers

Share this content:
Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News
Carol Krol, editor in chief, Direct Marketing News

Industry self regulation of online behavioral tracking is falling far short of expectations, according to a Stanford University Security Lab study published in July. Online ad companies, including 24/7 Real Media and AudienceScience, violated their own policies on tracking opted-out consumers, according to the research (see "Self-regulatory programs in hot seat over effectiveness"). The study found that 33 member companies of the Network Advertising Initiative's self-regulatory program complied with consumers targeting opt-out requests, but continued to track behavior.


The Digital Advertising Alliance's Advertising Option icon is another example of industry self regulation providing a way for consumers to opt out of targeted ads, but its principles don't forbid third-party ad companies from tracking opted-out consumers. 


Carmaker Chrysler Group announced in May that it was attaching behavioral tracking opt-out technology to its own online ads, as well as ads running on its website through a partnership with Evidon, a online behavioral advertising compliance company. That's an important step, but privacy advocates remain wary of lesser-known ad players. 


Despite voluntary programs such as the NAI's and the DAA's and proactive efforts by blue-chip marketers, consumers are still not privy to exactly how and by whom their personal information is used. This is yet another case of perception is reality, and marketers and marketing-industry players disrespect customers' privacy and preferences at their own peril. The Do Not Track Online Act of 2011, only one of several online privacy bills in the works, would mandate the creation of a Do Not Track mechanism to allow consumers to opt out of online and mobile tracking.


Mobile privacy worries that have cropped up in recent months around Apple's and Google's location-monitoring programs through mobile devices only underscore this issue. 


Brands will need to balance using location-based targeting with customer sensitivity around tracking. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law has been examining mobile location data usage and how much is shared, particularly with third parties. Education about the benefits of companies getting to know customer habits, while respecting limits about information-sharing, is the only way forward to beneficial, long-lasting connections.

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Brightcove is the world's leading video platform. The most innovative and respected brands confidently rely on Brightcove to solve their most demanding communication challenges because of the unmatched performance and flexibility of our platform, our global scale and reliability, and our award-winning service. With thousands of customers and an industry-leading suite of cloud video products, Brightcove enables customers to drive compelling business results.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above