Creating Awareness, Acceptance of Online Tracking is Critical for the Ad Industry

In the wake of the National Security Agency and Edward Snowden revelations about online surveillance, consumers are more aware and concerned about online tracking by the government and companies alike, according to a Monday session about online privacy during the 10th annual Advertising Week.

What does this mean for marketers and agencies? Dick O’Brien, EVP, Director of Government Relations for the 4A’s trade association, said that educating the consumer public about how and why marketers want to track them online is critical to making them feel more comfortable with the practice.

“The issue hit full boil when it became clear to many people that we [the ad industry] had such incredible ability to collect and analyze data and use it for targeting purposes,” O’Brien said, adding that the days are gone when brands just hoped that ads reached the intended audience.

In the wake of the Snowden story, many people began to conflate online tracking to the totalitarianism described in the writings of George Orwell, in Brave New World and that of a dystopian, Kafkaesque future, O’Brien said. Indeed, he acknowledged what consumers describe as a “creep” factor in receiving ads that are relevant to one’s online behavior, a sentiment that makes it critical for the advertising industry to address this issue head-on.

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) is working with other organizations to educate the public about the reasons the ad industry collects data. O’Brien explained that when “tracking” was put in simple terms –so football players won’t get ads for feminine hygiene products, say—and that paid advertising helps keep Web content free, people were more receptive to it.

When it’s explained to consumers that tracking allows them to receive ads about products that are relevant to them, and that ads pay for the free internet, then they understand, O’Brien said.

Click here for Dick O’Brien’s explanation about why standards for tracking must be established. 

Posted on September 25, 2013, in Advertising Week, DiGennaro Communications, Digital Advertising, Events, The Hit Board and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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