Telemarketing Software Featured Article

National 'Do Not Track' Registry on the Way?

January 21, 2011
By David Sims - Telemarketing Software Contributing Editor

Would you like the possibility of not having your browsing history tracked? Online ad vendors don't.

According to? industry observer Charles Tate, in December the Federal Trace Commission proposed allowing people surfing the Web to opt out of having their browsing history tracked. Online ad vendors saw red. 

Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst with eMarketer (News - Alert), told Tate “It would be a huge impact. If companies were not able to deliver targeted advertising, it would impact revenues pretty substantially.

The FTC (News - Alert) sought to rally popular support for the measure by comparing “Do-Not-Track” to the wildly-popular Do Not Call Registry, which has cut down on telemarketing calls. "The policy for web tracking with cookies can benefit consumers and is quite different than pop-up ads and email spam," Tate writes, adding that implementing such a program "would hurt companies that sell online advertising, companies like Bing, Yahoo and Google (News - Alert), as well as retailers who are becoming more reliant on online advertising to reach customers.

Industry observer Mark Gibbs offers a restrained perspective, saying "What the heck is the matter with these people? Did the mothers of the FTC board drop them on their heads when they were babies? Why on earth would these raving bureaucrats think that an 'opt out' option is the right way go?"

Representatives from the FTC want Web browsers to give users a do-no-track option "that would cut down on advertisers’ abilities to monitor sites people visit," Tate reports, saying "the recommendation could be decided by a vote of the FTC board early this year."

The way Tate explains it, companies like Microsoft (News - Alert) and Google "use small software programs called cookies to track the websites people visit. Advertisers can then use this information to push specific ads to certain consumers based on their browsing habits and perceived interests. Women may be searching for a new red sweater dress; they will get ads for JC Penney, Macy’s and women’s clothing... These so-called behavioral ads will account for 20 percent of spending on online display ads in the U.S. by 2014, according to eMarketer. That is compared to 12.7 percent in 2009."

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Juliana Kenny