Behavioral Targeting and Online Privacy is taking an interesting turn. Yesterday I wrote about Privacy groups proposal to create “Do-Not-Track” for online behavioral targeting just like “Do-Not-Call” list to stop telemarketers from contacting the people on the list.
To counter these groups, AOL took a proactive step by announcing the launch of Privacy education program for Behaviorally Targeted Advertising.
AOL is doing exactly what I wrote in April of this year in an article related to privacy
“I believe that if consumers are provided proper education then they can in fact benefit from Behavioral Targeting. It will be a win-win situation for all the parties involved. Proper education and disclosures by advertisers, publishers and networks will ease the concerns regarding Behavioral Targeting. Consumers have the right to opt out of Behavioral Targeting but what is lacking is proper education on how to do so.”
According to an AOL press release:
Program Will Provide Greater Transparency, Enhanced Notice of How Targeted Advertising Works, and Patent-Pending Technology to Protect Consumers’ Opt-Out Choices; The Program Will Reach More Than 91% of Online Consumers
“Our goal with this program is to engender greater trust for targeted advertising by communicating with consumers in a more visible way, and by providing them more information about their choices,” said Curt Viebranz, President of Platform-A. “AOL believes that doing more to explain to users the choices they have over the way their data is used, and helping them exercise those preferences will help them feel more in control.”
I also wrote in the previous article:
“The networks currently opt-in users by default; however, in my opinion the proper process should be opt-out by default and opt-in if user chooses to opt-in, just like we do for emails and newsletters. This process will move the burden from users to the advertisers, publishers and networks.”
I don’t think we are going to get opt-in process in near future, here is what AOL talked about the opt-out process:
The expanded use of the TACODA opt-out technology will help better preserve consumer choices. Today, users who opt-out of behavioral targeting by using an opt-out cookie risk having their preference lost if they later delete their cookies. TACODA leverages a Web cache technique to preserve a consumers’ opt-out choice even if they delete their browser cookies, something other opt-out systems cannot currently do. AOL is also exploring opportunities to license this technology on a royalty-free basis for use exclusively in consumer privacy protection programs.
“We want to make the opt-out process as simple and transparent as possible,” said Jules Polonetsky, Chief Privacy Officer, AOL. “We urge the industry to join us in ensuring that users who take steps to minimize the data they provide have their choices maintained.”
In another article titled “Online Marketers Joining Internet Privacy Efforts” NYTimes.com writes:
AOL says it is setting up a new Web site that will link consumers directly to opt-out lists run by the largest advertising networks. The site’s technology will ensure that people’s preferences are not erased later.
There is a silver lining for marketers, however: the AOL site will try to persuade people that they should choose to share some personal data in order to get pitches for products they might like. Most Web sites, including AOL, already collect data about users to send them specific ads — but AOL is choosing to become more open about the practice and will run advertisements about it in coming months.
I think this is a very smart move by AOL/Tacoda, if it can convince consumers about the benefit of Behavioral Targeting then why not take one step further and have these consumers provide more information about themselves.
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