The Beginning of the End of Behavioral Advertising?

On December 7th, Microsoft announced that it will be adding a tracking protection feature to Internet Explorer 9. In particular, Microsoft promises that:

  • IE9 will offer consumers a new opt-in mechanism (“Tracking Protection”) to identify and block many forms of undesired tracking
  • “Tracking Protection Lists” will enable consumers to control what third-party site content can track them when they’re online.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called for a Do-Not-Track system prior to Microsoft’s announcement.  The FTC’s suggested solution was the implementation of a consumer “Do Not Track” lust, through which consumers can register a request to tracking companies that they not be tracked. A major flaw with that approach is that it relies on the companies complying with the request, whereas Microsoft says its approach is more powerful in that it can actively block a tracking company immediately.

The FTC applauded Microsoft’s decision and called for other browser makers, like Mozilla, Google and Apple, to add a similar feature. Until they do Microsoft may be able to lure back people with the promise of a more private browsing experience.   Is Microsoft’s move the beginning of the end of behavioral advertising?

I think not, in light of the fact that the online behavioral advertising industry is in its infancy, and growing pains are inevitable.  This and other changes do not represent the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning.  In either event, anyone in the behavioral advertising space should take heed and prepare for the inevitable change.

Author: Seth Heyman
Seth D. Heyman is a California attorney with extensive experience in advertising and marketing law, corporate law, contracts, governmental regulations, international business, and Internet law. He has counseled numerous successful companies, both public and private, and was responsible for regulatory compliance, contract management, corporate governance, and HR best practices for multiple organizations in many diverse industries, including marketing, telecommunications, energy, and technology development. He offers insight and guidance on federal and state direct mail, TV, radio, telemarketing, and Internet marketing laws, as well as online promotions, Internet privacy, data protection regulations, and similar matters.

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