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BizReport : Advertising archives : August 10, 2011

Brands: What you need to know about online privacy

As the online space becomes more crowded brands are looking for better ways to engage consumers without infringing on their privacy. Data-driven targeting is becoming even more important across the US and Europe to bring the right content and ads to the consumer at the right time. Added to that, many brands are expanding into new countries. All of this brings the privacy initiatives of those countries to the forefront.

by Kristina Knight

The ePrivacy Directive in Europe is one of the most recent, and to take a better look into why privacy continues to be such a hot-button issue, we've brought in Stuart Colman with Audience Science. The directive was put into place in May and still many UK brands are working through their interpretations of the plans. The directive is a self-regulating framework for behaviorally targeted ads working upon the principles of Notice, User Choice, Data Security, Sensitive Segmentation, Education, Compliance/Enforcement and Review.

"The industry has introduced a self-regulation framework for online behavioural advertising (OBA) to address the legislation," said Stuart Colman, Managing Director, Audience Science Europe. "The Framework sees the introduction of an Enhanced Notice Icon which will need to be shown on or near any online advert that has used behavioural targeting or when third parties are collecting data on a website. This will provide users (when they click on it) with clear information describing data collection and usage, and also link to a new site, to allow them to manage their privacy preferences. The industry has agreed that 80% of behaviourally targeted online ads in the UK and Europe will carry the icon by June 2012."

In the US, privacy is most often associated with Do Not Track legislation, which has come under fire from some industry experts who note that many the variations of Do Not Track legislation is confusing the situation.

"A revision to the current DNT proposals that preserves the interests of both consumers and publishers by giving them control over DNT," said Omar Tawakol, CEO, BlueKai. "So what would that revision look like? Here's an example:

  • Users would have the ability to select DNT settings in their browser. This preference would be recognized by the publisher site the user navigates to.
  • The Publisher site presents the user with a message that acknowledges their DNT setting and asks if the Publisher can override that setting to give them a better site experience, more free content, etc.
  • Users choose! (Their DNT preference is applicable for this publisher site only.)

  • This model would open the lines of communication between consumers and publishers on the application of DNT while preserving the benefits of monetization for publishers and the service (aka free content) provided to consumers. It is also vitally important that DNT not erase cookies as this would still be counterproductive in the disruption of the monetization process for ad-supported content (e-commerce would be severely impacted). What it should ensure is that the state of the cookie be intact while DNT is present."

    As the Internet becomes more populated with users, ads and brands, tracking and user privacy will only become more important. But, marketers must first understand the privacy policies in their respective countries before they can ensure user privacy online.

    Tags: ad targeting, advertising, AudienceScience, BlueKai, Do Not Track, ePrivacy Directive

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