More NewsIndustry Group Launches to End Cookie ‘Arms Race’

Industry Group Launches to End Cookie 'Arms Race'

Safecount aims to improve relations between consumers worried about privacy and marketers hungry for data.

Agency and research execs have formed a new coalition, called Safecount, to improve relations between consumers worried about privacy and marketers hungry for data. The group aims to support online measurement practices that are safe for — and embraced by — consumers.

“It’s time for advertisers and researchers to take a leadership role in the development of policies and procedures for safe media measurement,” said Cory Treffiletti, a co-founder of the group and the managing director of Carat Interactive’s Bay Area office.

Treffiletti and Dynamic Logic President Nick Nyhan are spearheading the development of the group, which hopes to elicit the participation of advertisers, consumer advocacy groups, agencies, research firms, publishers and tech vendors.

Safecount’s stated mandate is three-fold: to provide an open forum for the exchange of ideas, to advocate measurement approaches “that are safe for consumers and accurate for advertisers,” and to educate consumers and legislators on the benefits of cookies and other online measurement criteria.

The group has set up a site at Safecount.org, with a petition asking people to lend their written support to its mission. Online marketing figures to sign so far include Universal McCann Media Director Brian Monahan, mOne Director of Advanced Analytics Gerard Broussard and Avenue A/Razorfish VP of Media Jeff Lanctot.

“Advertisers and publishers want accountability, not a cold war with consumers, and we need to prevent a technical arms race,” said Nyhan.

As its first move, Safecount has signed on as the sponsor of the Network Advertising Initiative’s “eCommerce in the Age of Spyware” event, scheduled for May 12 in New York.

In the short term, the coalition will attempt to proactively engage the debate over cookies. But Treffiletti said while cookies are the topic du jour, he expects the group to change along with the issues.

“Down the line, this isn’t going to be about cookies,” he said. “The [Arbitron] Personal People Meter has the same implications.”

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