Thin ice

At the start of November, I wrote a post that outlined why I thought the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) should abandon its call for a boycott of Microsoft's decision to turn on "do not track" by default in its next version of Internet Explorer. The results of a recent survey by Edelman, a public relations firm, show why the DAA's stance is underinformed.

As reported by Al Urbanski at Direct Marketing News, Edelman found that "60% of 6,400 executives surveyed in 20 countries said their companies don't consider privacy a priority, and more than half don't believe that a data breach would adversely affect their corporate reputations". This is the same universe in which "eight in 10 consumers would leave banking institutions that accessed their personal information without permission … and 70% would dump health care providers that did so."

Pete Pedersen, EVP and chair of Edelman's Global Technology practice, pulls no punches: “There's a massive disconnect between companies and consumers on the issue. We're seeing these massive differences between consumers' expectations and the behavior of companies."

This is why accepting "do not track" is good business. There's no consensus on what constitutes best practice when it comes to data privacy. Instinctively opposing sensible constraints – a browser that starts with the marketing equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath – opens the door to a host of more draconian restrictions.

The DAA and others would be better served exploring the disconnect between marketers and consumers. In the end, the data belongs to consumers; they give it freely, or not at all. Skating on the thin ice in the middle is bound to show cracks sooner rather than later.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.