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BizReport : Internet : August 26, 2008

Will IE8 disrupt online advertising?

A new version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is soon to be released, and some advertisers fear a new privacy feature has the potential to be an ad blocker. What does the new feature do, and might it affect Internet advertising?

by Helen Leggatt

Ad blocking software has been around for years, and many Internet users enjoy ad-free browsing. However, never before has one of the most-used Internet browsers in the world provided a feature that acts in a similar fashion. Until now.

Recent reports indicate that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8, being released in a matter of days, will feature a new suite of tools designed to allow browsers to leave no online footprints.

Called “InPrivate”, the tools allow Internet browsers to anonymously browse websites by omitting to store cookies and new history entries, deleting new temporary Internet files and not storing any search terms, typed in addresses or passwords.

The tool is designed for Internet users who wish to keep their online activities private from others. Some have labeled the tool “porn mode”, citing it as perhaps the most obvious reason anyone would want to surf in secret.

There are, however, plenty of reasons for online privacy including not wanting a spouse to see research on a surprise gift, computer sharers may want to keep their online socializing from others or perhaps Grandma would rather no-one else found out about her embarrassing medical condition she recently Googled?

But will the new “InPrivate Browsing” tools affect advertisers and publishers? According to the Washington Post, a spokesman for Microsoft said of the feature “there may be ads that get blocked” and that it was designed to stop tracking by third-party sites. So, I guess the answer is yes. We will just have to wait to find out to what extent.

Tags: ad blocker, Internet browser, Microsoft, privacy

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  • From what I've read, InPrivate simply blocks 3rd party cookies when it suspects they are used in conjunction with tracking user activity. The people who will be most affected by this are behavioral targeting companies like Tacoda, because they won't be able to identify users as they travel from site to site while InPrivate is enabled.

    However, I don't see this as having a tremendous impact on website managers' advertising revenue unless a significant amount of your ad impressions are behavioral targeted agency ads.

    One way to put it is: If your ad is delivered based on a user's activity on your site, it shouldn't be affected. If an ad is delivered based on a users activity on other sites, it MAY be affected IF the user has InPrivate enabled. (At most I would guess that to be ~1-2% of your traffic)

    In truth, I believe the only reason this feature is being hyped is simply a tactic by Microsoft to draw attention to their new browser, and get some free press.



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