A tiny minority of users offered the opportunity to opt out of behavioral advertising through the Digital Advertising Alliance's new ad icon have chosen to do so, one of its approved technology providers claims.
An average of around one in every 700,000 users served an ad incorporating the icon are choosing to opt out, according to an analysis of impressions served by Better Advertising over the past six months. That amounts to an opt-out rate of around .00014 percent. Of course, the fact that a user was served an ad does not necessarily indicate he or she saw the icon, or indeed the ad itself.
Perhaps more notable is the finding that around five percent of users that have clicked on the icon proceed to opt out of behavioral tracking. Better Advertising claims that statistic suggests "transparency doesn't foster opt-out" and that consumers are less likely to want to opt out if they feel they are being presented with sufficient information about how their data is used.
"We like to think about [the icon] as the equivalent of a nutritional label on food," said Better Advertising CEO Scott Meyer, implying consumers are more comfortable when presented with clear information about how their data is used.
The company has been certified by the Alliance to enable the icon and the technology behind it in ads. The self-regulatory system has been tested and promoted by agencies including Publicis-owned VivaKi and WPP's GroupM.
Better advertising also reported the icon has received an overall average click through rate of around .0035 percent across multiple campaigns, suggesting it was clicked on once for every 28,500 impressions served. That figure, coupled with the fact that five percent of users clicking the icon went on to opt out, suggests one user opted out for every 570,000 impressions served.
"There's always a chance the number of users opting out could go up as more advertisers implement the icon… It's early days, but there's no indication the opt out rate will go up dramatically," Meyer said. "Whatever the [opt-out] rate is, it's so small that it's not going to destroy the business."
To date, the company has served almost 10 billion impressions incorporating the icon across multiple campaigns over six months. According to Meyer, campaigns launching Monday for two major advertisers will help grow that number further.
However despite the self-regulatory efforts by the Digital Advertising Alliance and companies such as Better Advertising, the FTC appears unconvinced by the cookie-based opt-out on which the icon is based. In a recent report on the issue it called instead for a browser-based implementation, which would limit the placement of cookies on users' machines entirely if they so wished. Better Advertising itself has released a browser plug-in called Ghostery, which would appear to fill that criteria, allowing users to choose which third party scripts they allow and reject.
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Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011.
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