Articles in The 'do-not-track-internet-regulation' Tag

May 19 2011

Opt-out Ads for Behavioral Targeting?

by Katherine Bennett

Did you ever dance to the Hokey Pokey song when you were a child? You know, “you put your left foot in you put your left foot out, etc.” It seems that this could be the case for advertisers when it comes to behavioral targeting. Due to some bills on Capitol Hill, mainly the “do not track” bill, some advertisers are getting ahead of the game to attempt to make sure their ads are compliant.

Capitol Hill wants to give consumers the opportunity to opt-out of behavioral targeting; mainly, requiring behavioral targeting ads to have a “Do Not Track mechanism.”  Chrysler along with others have started displaying ads that gives consumer the options to opt-out. It’s kind of like the fine print at the bottom of a contract. Unless someone looks for it they may not be aware that it is actually there. However, it is there and it gives the consumer the option to opt-out.

In this particular ad by Chrysler, the opt-out option is in the top right hand corner of the display ad. Once a consumer clicks on that icon, a drop down menu appears. It explains to the consumer that the ad is being served to them because it matched their interests and is based on their “browsing activity.”

Opt-out Ads for Behavioral Targeting Opt-out Ads for Behavioral Targeting

The consumer receives three options. 1. More information and opt-out options. 2. What is interest-based advertising? (aka as behavioral targeting) 3. Chrysler values their privacy. These options lead to more detailed summary pages that explain the options that consumers have and their various outcomes.

If the consumer clicks on option 1 they are taken to a page that shows a list of different online companies that may be collecting behavioral data on them. Not all of the companies give them the option to opt-out, but for the ones who do; they can just click a box to be opted-out. This doesn’t mean that they won’t see Chrysler ads anymore. However, their browsing data won’t be used to determine which ads they will see while browsing online.

If the consumer selects door number 2 they are taken to a website that shows them a demo of how interest-based (behavioral targeting) works. After viewing the demo the consumer has the option to opt-out and is even given an explanation of what will happen once they opt-out.

Last, but not least, door number 3 takes the consumer to a lengthy privacy document by Chrysler. This document explains what Chrysler does with their data and how they value the consumer’s privacy, etc.

All in all, the opt-out option is an attempt by advertisers to get ahead of possible regulation by the government. If the bill does pass, Chrysler will be ahead of the game while other advertisers will have to make adjustments to their behavioral targeting ads and create an opt-out option for them. For now, behavioral targeting ads don’t have to disclose their tracking capability to consumers, but that could change in the future. 

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