“Do Not Track” Update

foxRemember the squabble over Microsoft’s “do not track” setting in Internet Explorer 10?

Here’s the unsurprising outcome, as reported by Advertising Age:

A coalition of advertising trade associations gave publishers and advertisers license to ignore the “do not track” signal from Microsoft’s coming web browser and any other that ships with the option checked by default.

The statement from the Digital Advertising Alliance marks the latest example of the online ad industry’s insistence that it will only get behind “do not track” settings that web users have turned on themselves. Microsoft has said that it’s new Internet Explorer 10 browser would set a “do not track” setting as a default setting.

“The DAA does not require companies to honor DNT signals fixed by the browser manufacturers and set by them in browsers,” the statement said. “Specifically, it is not a DAA Principle or in any way a requirement under the DAA Program to honor a DNT signal that is automatically set in IE10 or any other browser. The Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association will not sanction or penalize companies or otherwise enforce with respect to DNT signals set on IE10 or other browsers.”

The DAA has dubbed such default settings as “machine-driven.”

But one of the main problems with the DAA’s stance is that some people may choose to use IE 10 precisely because the “do not track” function is set by default and they do not want to be tracked. In those instances, advertisers may put themselves in the unenviable position of indirectly ignoring a person’s wish not to be targeted with ads.

Enviability, of course, is nothing compared to profits. To paraphrase old Corny Vanderbilt, “Who cares about wishes? Hain’t I go the power?”

Hence, Captain Renault is simply shocked to hear Ad Age report that, by now, “few websites or third party ad firms are honoring Microsoft’s DNT beacon.”

Howler of the Week

At right is Wendy Clark, “senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities” at the Coca-Cola corporation. Ms. Clark has weighed in on behalf of her employer in the controversy over Microsoft’s plan to respect overwhelmingly clear public preferences and make “do not track” the default setting in its next version of Internet Explorer. Clark, according to Advertising Age,

said brands, including Microsoft, shouldn’t be assuming choices for consumers. “All we want is an opportunity for consumers to make their own choice rather than have the choice made for them.”

Friends, it doesn’t get more Orwellian than that.