NEW YORK--()--As confusion reigns and misinformation pervades the airwaves, one of the more complicated issues of our day seems all too close to slipping from the grasp of the interactive media industry’s control. In the past 30 days, as Do Not Track (DNT) proposals have reached a crescendo, the stakes for both the industry and the consumer have followed suit.
“It seems that pretty much everyone following the online privacy issue, and even offline consumer data-related privacy issues, believes that the commercial market has a role to play and is looking to leaders on privacy to make clear what he best practices are now.”
Many DNT proposals strike at the core of how web content is delivered, optimized, and funded. These would have a highly disruptive impact on medium to small web publishers and the marketers who depend on them. While many influential parties are supportive of DNT, they all define the concept differently. Does DNT address the consumer need? And how are the DNT debates shaping industry views, let alone consumer views of the self-regulatory program?
These and other questions were posed by Evidon’s founders in comments to the U.S. Federal Commission on the FTC’s preliminary report on a proposed framework for consumer privacy, and to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which solicited comments to its blog from Evidon to address the industry directly.
Evidon’s FTC Comments are available here: http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/privacyreportframework/00391.html
Evidon’s IAB Comments are available here: http://www.iab.net/iablog/2011/02/self-regulation-solves-the-do-.html
“The fact is that consumers have enjoyed multiple, free, Do Not Track mechanisms at their fingertips for years,” said Colin O’Malley, Co-Founder & VP of Business Development and Policy for Evidon and member of the IAB's Networks & Exchanges Committee and Public Policy Council. “It seems that pretty much everyone following the online privacy issue, and even offline consumer data-related privacy issues, believes that the commercial market has a role to play and is looking to leaders on privacy to make clear what he best practices are now.
“The FTC has made it clear that providing consumers with clear notice and simplified choice are key components of their proposed data privacy framework,” said Scott Meyer, Founder and CEO of Evidon in his comments to the FTC. “Evidon’s Assurance Platform is a proven, effective means for meeting these goals. Information presented through the platform enables consumers to make informed and meaningful decisions about data collection and use. Relying on a Do Not Track mechanism will limit consumer transparency, control and innovation in empowering consumer privacy in a vibrant online advertising market.”
The Evidon platform that has been operating at scale since last summer is comprised of three components:
- A transparency component that notifies a consumer viewing an ad that the advertisement was delivered using online behavioral data and identifies the data providers involved in its delivery;
- A choice component that provides consumers choice, namely, an easy method for consumers to opt-out of the collection or use of behavioral information on a company-by-company basis; and
- A reporting tool that provides the advertising agency, advertiser, or network insight into consumers’ interaction with the platform and evidence of compliance with self- regulatory principles.
“We're in the midst of a golden age of innovation in privacy technologies,” said O’Malley in his IAB.net commentary. “Consumers that are so inclined have a growing array of tools to manage their privacy online.”
Indeed, consumer-empowering tools range from the aggressive and technical (NoScript, Adblock Plus), to the simple and ad industry friendly (NAI/AboutAds.info opt-out page, Facebook privacy settings), with many options in between (Ghostery, which Evidon operates; TrackerBlock, etc.) Each of these tools approaches the policy, technology, and larger political conversation differently, which represents even deeper consumer choice. Privacy requires the active management of trade-offs in every case, as the quid-pro-quo of consumer relationships with media companies increasingly tilts toward the consumer.
Brands Buying Into the Program
“Many of our clients are choosing to present consumers with the icon, including notice and choice tools, on advertising campaigns and web pages that don’t even have an OBA component,” said Meyer. “Brands understand that consumers have more choices – more power - online than they do offline, and that the expression of transparency through the Advertising Option Icon is just part of the conversation that is available with them online. All along, we’ve felt that the industry’s self compliance efforts should be regarded as a carrot, not a stick – that this will improve brands’ relationships with consumers, and vice-versa. Now that we’re approaching 15 billion impressions served, the proof is as clear as the choice that consumers are making.”
Selected by the Digital Advertising Alliance to power its online behavioral advertising self-regulatory program, Evidon (formerly Better Advertising) enables a more trusted environment for everyone in the online ecosystem. It gives businesses an easy, standard way of providing evidence of compliance with industry guidelines, and consumers more transparency into and control over how their information is used online. By empowering consumers and earning their trust, businesses build their brands, participate in OBA with confidence and generate Evidon results. For more information, please visit: www.evidon.com.