ADOTAS – On January 27, a collation of online trade groups, including the Future of Privacy Forum and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, released their proposed standards for enhanced notice, which refers to a universal phrase or symbol on ads shown to a consumer based on their demographic or behavioral data.
The proposed logo, in the upper left-hand corner, for enhanced notice is being referred to as the “little i.”
Providing transparency and choice has been an area of intense focus over the past year by service providers in the online ad industry. A large part of this focus was gathering data surrounding how consumers interact with enhanced notice touch points, and how enhanced notice can impact the bottom line of both advertiser and service provider.
Last December Clickz published an article that outlined data provided by Google about its initiative around enhanced notice; which was done through Google’s Preference Center.
In this article, Nicole Wong, Google deputy general counsel states, “Of those who visit [Google’s preference center], four times as many people edit their targeting profile as opt out of targeting completely. A good percentage of users are saying they’d rather control [behavioral targeting] than opt out.”
I believe this tells us much about the real story behind privacy concerns. On one side, you’ll find those who constantly condemn service providers about alleged abuses inflicted to consumers privacy online, and on the other side you have data that shows that once consumers have clear notice and choice, they set their preferences to what they are comfortable with versus opting out.
Speculation is just that — speculation, and we shouldn’t be making decisions or regulation that can affect so many organizations and livelihoods without solid information and careful understanding.
That said, I do believe enhanced notice is the right thing to do. I also believe there are other factors driving it other than those who believe that consumers need to know what data is leveraged and how it is used.
This next generation will view privacy in a completely different way than we do. They’re the generation that is growing up posting every tidbit of their life for anyone else in the world to view, and at the same time this is also the generation that is learning how to control what information gets viewed by whom.
The fact that Google sees more people controlling their information preferences versus opting out of data collection shows that the majority of consumers get “it.” Data is going to be collected and used for marketing and consumer experience purposes.
It’s more about the dad who’s worried about what information is Google is collecting rather than the high school student on Facebook who knows how to set privacy settings, and does so accordingly.
I’m not saying that there isn’t room for abuse, there definitely is. This is why it’s important for those companies that do collect data for marketing purposes to open up the books and show us what’s going on. There are rewards when you give users control and visibility.
I implore the rest of the industry to follow suit in respect to enhanced notice and to do so quickly. More specifically, advertisers need to jump on the bandwagon and agree that this enhanced notice the best move in the long run. It’s the right thing to do.
Privacy policies are an antiquated and confusing way to approach privacy concerns. Consumers have no idea why they see the ads they see online, and by not being forthright with them can cause them to fear the worst and opt out.
Companies who are upfront about what data is collected and why will be rewarded. Since releasing enhanced notice ourselves last year, we at FetchBack not only did not see an increase in opt-out rates (just like Google), but also the enhanced notice functionality actually served as education for advertisers as to how targeting like ours works.
Later this year, the Federal Trade Commission could be handed a whole new set of powers and control over issues such as this. It’s important that the industry remain vigilant and keep up the pressure with our peers to adhere to these new standards.
As it’s your “Dad” who’s in control of the FTC, and his lack of industry knowledge, technology and the culture could definitely create problems for everyone. The best defense is a great offense; and in this case, the best offense is enhanced notice.