While Microsoft made a spate of announcements at Advertising Week highlighting the ad potential for Windows 8, the Association of National Advertisers used its bully pulpit to reiterate its opposition to making "do-not-track" the default option in the next version of Internet Explorer, IE10.
In an open letter to Microsoft execs, the ANA said, "…Microsoft's announcement has been uniformly met with outrage, opposition, and declarations that Microsoft's action is wrong. The entire media ecosystem has condemned this action."
In June, Microsoft said that it was building IE10 with do-not-track turned on by default. Companies including Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have already implemented the AdChoices icon in ads in Europe, informing consumers that they can turn off tracking.
At that time, Alex Fowler, Mozilla's privacy and public policy lead, said consumers, not Microsoft, should make that decision.
The Digital Advertising Alliance, a self-regulatory privacy coalition, is working with the U.S. Commerce Department and Federal Trade Commission to plan for a browser-based do-not-track standard. While the ad industry has gotten behind browser-based header tools that will let consumers easily choose to turn off tracking, the plan was to require consumers to opt out of tracking using the header tools.
Little consensus seems to have arrived in this issue. In a June meeting of the W3C to discuss global do-not-track standards, attendees heard from the European Commission that the proposed spec shouldn't include factory settings for software or devices such as IE10.
Despite protests from advertisers - and even some privacy advocates - Microsoft reaffirmed its decision in August.
Even though Microsoft has said that IE10 will clearly notify consumers that they have a choice about keeping do-not-track or turning it off, the ANA said this move would jeopardize the ad-supported business model, "cannibalizing the internet."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014