The impact of a Federally regulated Do Not Track registry has search engines and other online advertising vendors scurrying to self regulate. What steps are these online players implementing and why is the question.
As ClickZ has reported throughout this year, the IAB - Interactive Advertising Bureau - has set up a industry group to address this situation. They have even promoted Mike Zaneis to SVP and general counsel for the IAB initiative and he has presented their case internationally.
Adwords has added retargeting options earlier this year, which was seen as a solid new service that can only be done with tracking.
The FTC has released a report which should be read by all in our space. The initial decision is coming soon, possibly before Christmas and advertisers are hoping they are perceived as 'nice'.
"By educating industry and presenting its case in regions including Asia and South America, the IAB aims to prevent regulations and laws that could have a negative impact on the industry outside the U.S. and Europe, where governments are clamping down. "We're not trying to lead the effort in Europe [or elsewhere]; we're just trying to trying to partner" with international companies leading the self-regulatory charge," Zaneis told ClickZ.
The group has created a website - BetterAdvertising - to inform the industry and people in general of their efforts - including creating icons to show sites are in compliance with their self regulations.
The two icons signify to site visitors that they are on websites that are part of the Open Data Project (ODP) and can opt out of tracking or just be aware of the uses the gathered information will be used for. The icon on the left represents a membership in the "Ad Notice Experience: gives consumers information about the companies that are behind the interest-based ads they receive, and control over how their information is used." "Ghostery helps consumers discover which companies are tracking them when they visit a website, learn more about those companies and, if they choose to, prevent those companies from collecting their browser data," the Better Advertising site explained.
The group should be talking a little more with their search advertising counterparts as these measures are labeled - ODP in search abbreviations stands for the Open Directory Project or DMOZ. They might also want to combine goals, as both Google and Microsoft have already developed opt outs for tracking which could impact the IABs efforts.
If the Google Analytics and Internet Explorer's new browser have a switch perhaps the IAB should be suggesting an override for approved sites.
Now what are each of these groups trying to protect? IAB and Google through DoubleClick's ad platform are interested in behavioral targeting - this advanced tracking allows them to follow visitor behavior as they move across sites and then use an ad targeting program that allows advertisers to bid in real time on each visitor based on this information. Advertisers can improve their targeting which can increase conversions by getting the right message to the right audience.
On the search tracking is is essential to measure conversion of PPC spends. Before web analytics and tracking was available companies bought PPC traffic blind - if a spend of x got you y conversions you had to buy 2x to get 2y conversions. Tracking allowed advertisers to see which keywords really converted, so wasted spends could be dropped and successful spends could be increased.
Privacy Watchdogs have gone as fair as showing a sarcastic video on the Times Square jumbotron.
The rush is on to address what could be a major industry tsunami. How the government reacts to these new steps has yet to be seen.