Do Not Track

Friday, December 10, 2010


Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission floated a proposal for a "Do Not Track" option for consumers to block certain online advertisers. Predictably, the measure was found wanting by the ad industry, which believes its own self-regulation is a superior approach, and by privacy advocates, who believe the FTC plan doesn't go far enough. Bob spent the week speaking to the interested parties about so-called "behavioral targeting" online.

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Comments [8]


@Frank Stone

"it's my data and info, I should get a cut of the action. Fork it over!"

You got your "cut of the action". It's called free content.

Dec. 14 2010 10:35 PM
Jeff Chester from Washington, DC

On the Media should be able to do a more informed report on interactive advertising, data collection, consumer protection and privacy. Digital marketing and data collection techniques pose serious threats to consumers and citizens, such as its use in online financial and pharma marketing. There are many examples if Mr. Garfield was able to look objectively at the issue. Reporting on this topic from On The Media should not come from those involved in the advertising and marketing industry, as Mr. Garfield is [see, for example:;]. This is a conflict of interest that On the Media should redress in future stories.

Dec. 14 2010 02:07 PM
Frank Stone from Kansas City

If it's my data and info, I should get a cut of the action. Fork it over!

Dec. 13 2010 01:41 PM

btw, serves behavioral targeted ads on their homepage.

Dec. 12 2010 10:36 PM

fwiw, I've worked in the marketing industry my entire life and digital for the past 15 years.

This story mixed a lot of apples (behavioral targeting) with oranges (data profiling) but happened to stumble into some truths. Marketers who use behavioral targeting don't know who YOU are, nor do they care. BT just helps them spend their ad dollars more efficiently.

BT is a huge benefit to everyone if you think about it. Why suffer through ads that are completely irrelevant to your needs and interests? I don't care if I ever see another Tampon ad again - I never used them and never will. Also, if all advertising was highly targeted, marketing costs would plummet, and so would the prices of goods and services.

OD, you don't know what you're talking about. Billions of dollars are wasted on broadcast advertising because of poor targeting, and viewers/listeners are forced to sit at the muzzle end of an ad shotgun, with the majority of ads they're exposed to being completely irrelevant.

Dec. 12 2010 09:54 PM
Etaoin Shrdlu from Farmingvale

Another NPR program discussed this issue, and I have the same problem with both reports. They talk about cookies being the problem, but many browsers (such as Firefox) already come with the ability to block cookies. So, is this something different? Are there "special" cookies the browsers can't block. Or have those of us who installed such browsers (or what are known as "add-ons") to block cookies been the victims of a scam?

Some clarification please.

Dec. 12 2010 09:42 PM

Can the online ad industry lobbyist explain how print ads - delivered without tracking - outpaces online ads? Can he explain how broadcast TV, local TV ads continue to exist/rise without tracking software? Or how over the air, free radio is on pace to generate $15 billion without using tracking technology. But, somehow, tracking software is the most important thing for online ad delivery?

Dec. 12 2010 11:12 AM
TJDestry from Albany

It's harmless, but it can be startling. A few sensible filters could be added to prevent this sort of thing.

1. When I had the sad task of emailing people to inform them of the drowning death of a friend who had been scuba-diving off Guam, I was offered scuba-diving vacations in Guam. I have a pretty dark sense of humor, but this was not really very good timing.

2. Dogs have a particular gland that occasionally requires owner maintenance. You won't, however, want to find instructions on line, unless your sense of humor is more twisted than dark: Entering "dog" and "anal" really produces some insights into what's available out there!

But bear this in mind: Those ads that you aren't interested in cost the advertiser nothing. Unless you click on them out of malice.

Dec. 11 2010 10:44 AM

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