Randall Rothenberg: War Against the Web – Business on The Huffington Post
This column by IAB CEO Randall Rotherberg on the HuffPo got me worked up. If you work in web marketing, web publishing, or any web content field that depends on advertising to sustain your business — then read this and get pissed. The privacy goo-goos are out in force and need a lesson in web anonymity. I’ll post in depth on the issue when I get out of this airport.
Meanwhile, read Randall’s post:
“Every Web site you visit is a product of “third parties.” The Web is a web; when you browse, anonymous data is exchanged continuously among service providers, sites, ad-delivery companies, content developers, analytics firms, and many others. Place undue operating burdens on this ecosystem, and it’s the ad-supported specialty sites, niche media, independent blogs, minority publications, and Mom & Pop dot-coms (thousands of which depend on third-party representatives to sell and convey their ads) that will suffer the most. Right behind them will be the traditional newspaper and magazine companies that are developing third-party online networks to augment their reach.”Do-not-track” is synonymous with “do-not-improve.” Observation of Americans’ consumption behavior has been a staple of marketing research at least since Tocqueville reported on our obsession with “commercial and industrial occupations” nearly 200 years ago. So, too, today: Online behavioral analysis is essential if marketers and media are to enhance their products, services, entertainment, information, and news offerings. Regulatory restrictions on the collection of anonymous preference information will consign us to an economy based on inefficient speculation. How can we advance the way we communicate the virtues of green cars, social investing, or charitable giving? Guesswork, I guess.
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Mr. Rothenberg fails to address the central question regarding online advertising. The call for regulation is designed to ensure individuals control their data while on the Internet or using their mobile phonesâ€”not companies such as Google, Microsoft, and AOL. Public interest groups are not opposed to interactive marketing: indeed, we recognize it as a key source of funds for online publishing. But Mr. Rothenbergâ€™s members have created a commercial surveillance system that rivals the NSAâ€”tracking and analyzing our every move while on the Internet, all so we can be encouraged to behave favorably to some marketing message. Responsible ad industry leaders will seriously address the privacy threats created by the interactive marketing apparatusâ€”and not hide behind self-serving claims that unless our privacy is lost, we wonâ€™t have a robust digital medium. We have already identified problems related to online targeting and data collection with pharma, subprime mortgages, and junk food marketing aimed at children, for example. We urge readers to review the USPIRG/CDD FTC complaints at http://www.democraticmedia.org and also review digitalads.org
Yeow…this is exactly the wrong way to push for open id across the net. “We need you to give up your anonymity so we can better monetize you” won’t work for anyone.