Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) is becoming a hot topic these days with more and more companies using the context delivery of ads as a source of marketing and income boosting. Up until now the industry has relied on self-regulation but the Sacramento Bee, repeating an editorial from another newspaper, published a news story about how all that may be about to change (http://www.sacbee.com/2011/07/27/3797517/time-is-running-out-on-internet.html)
Congress is currently looking at a bill, called the ’Do Not Track’ bill, that forces advertising companies to offer a way for site users to opt out having their browsing information tracked which enables the companies to deliver ads it believes are in the area of interest to the visitor. Californian Democrat, Jackie Speier, is a leading proponent of the bill, and claims that self regulation is not working; he actually goes so far as to call it ‘a joke’ and that something needs to be done to protect the consumer.
A main issue raised about OBA is that it has been found that companies have still been tracking users information even though the users believe they have opted out of being tracked. This has led to consumers worrying about what information is being tracked and what purpose it is being used for.
The industry is now trying to work with consumer advocate groups to come up with a data collection system that satisfies both parties as to what data can still be collected if a user opts out of data collection and what users can do if these rules are broken. Internet advertising companies are worried about the loss of revenue from these ads, and how they would be able to provide evidence to companies that use their service that their ads were in fact delivered in the first place if no information is allowed to be collected.
We currently use such an ad system for one of our main websites through a service offered by Google. There is a certain threshold limit of site visitors using a specific keyword in order for the ad service to be activated but to my knowledge there is no option to allow a user to decline this service. It of course makes sense to us to use this service, as delivering an ad for a product that the system has recorded the user has looked at in the past makes more sense to us than to simply drop an ad, on any page, for any user. This is even more true when we are talking about the golf cart tires site that we are currently redeveloping. Displaying a Carlisle cart tire to someone that recently looked at golf carts or tires makes an ad conversion more likely than simply placing an ad on a random site to a random viewer.
Although we could not be held responsible if an advertising service we were using ignored user ‘do not track’ requests, if could conceivably hurt our reputation to be linked to them. To this end it would behoove us to ensure that we only used advertising companies that guaranteed that they followed the user’s instructions and removed them from tracking. We could also put a disclaimer on our site that we specifically do not pass on user information, or work with ad companies that do.
This course of action could actually have the added benefit of increasing customer confidence in the site, and could lead to an increase in the order conversion rate of the site. It has been shown that adding trust seals to a site increases conversion rate and it is not inconceivable to think this would have the same effect as well.
- Golf Cart Tires Project – References
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Keywords and Search Engine Screenshots (unit 5)
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 5 – Project Time Line
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 4
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 3
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 2
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 1
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Online Tracking/Privacy Concerns
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Site Mashups