New initiatives have been announced to protect the privacy of online consumers. A “Do Not Track” button will be placed into web browsers to allow consumers to opt out of having companies keep track of their online data.
When an Internet user searches the web, information about them is collected and used to generate ads that may interest them. Some have considered this a breach of privacy, and the Obama administration has been working on finding a way to protect the privacy of online users.
The problem is this: many advertisers use this collected data to create ads and build revenue. And there is plenty of revenue in online advertising. In fact, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, revenues from digital advertising in the United States made $7.88 billion during 2011’s third quarter. This number was a 22% increase over 2010’s third quarter.
With the Do Not Track button, browser vendors will include this option into their browsers. When selected, it will send a signal to data collecting companies that this specific user does not want to be tracked.
So how will this affect your marketing strategy? It depends.
If your marketing strategy does not revolve around data collected from websites, then your marketing strategy will not be affected at all.
If you do rely on the data collected from websites, it may have an impact on your marketing strategy, but chances are, it won’t be too significant. While the Do Not Track button will give web users new privacy settings, it will not put a stop to all tracking. Even though the data that is collected cannot be used to tailor advertisements to specific users, it can still be used for market research. It also won’t stop Facebook from collecting data when users “Like” something.
Rather than rely on collected data to create advertisements tailored to specific individuals, your marketing strategy may need to create new tactics. The Do Not Track button may force your company to look at your marketing strategy and re-evaluate its effectiveness. Maybe it is time to break into a new tactic, such as mobile.
But in order for your company to be affected by the Do Not Track button, Internet users will have to actually use it. If a user clicks on it, they run the risk of getting random and inappropriate ads. Instead of getting an ad for a local restaurant, they may get an X-rated ad. By clicking the Do Not Track button, users are not stopping ads from popping up, they are simply stopping the localization and customization of them. So rather than getting an ad based on past searches, they will get an ad from a random company.
Unfortunately, knowing how the Do Not Track button is going to affect your marketing strategy won’t be possible until after the button is launched. Then, you will see if your company can continue marketing the same way it has been or if you need to create a new way to reach your target audience.