Keeping Web Tracking On Track

With so much focus on accountability and ROI, there’s an increasing pressure on agencies to prove their advertising works. And with interactive, agencies are asked to provide detailed metrics whenever possible. The trouble is, the more consumers know about how much they’re tracked online, the more they don’t like it.
So with the specter of legislation looming, the ad industry is attempting some self-regulation. From The Wall Street Journal:

The Future of Privacy Forum, a privacy group backed by AT&T, is in the final stages of developing a logo that would appear on ads or Web sites to alert consumers to customized ads or that their Internet browsing is being tracked. The goal is to create a symbol that will gain the same awareness as the recycle triangle, says Jules Polonetsky, director of the forum. The group has yet to settle on a particular logo but has nixed using a “T” for targeting or an eyeball.
“We don’t have the drafting pen up on the Hill, so instead of wringing our hands on what they may or may not write, we are just trying to build the most credible self-regulatory program possible,” says Mike Zaneis, vice president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group representing 375 media and technology companies, including AOL, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. The IAB is putting the finishing touches on a digital ad campaign to teach consumers about how online advertising works. It plans to launch the campaign before the end of the year.

You’d think Congress has better things to do, but the reality is that if you give marketers an inch, they take a mile, and that’s easy chum for politicians looking to score points. So no matter how well-intentioned self-regulation is, it isn’t going to allay people’s fears about marketers and other organizations tracking where they go and what they click on when they’re online. I’m not sure an awareness campaign is the answer.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.