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Microsoft's Default Do-Not-Track Header Draws Criticism from Industry

6 Jun, 2012 By: Jackie Jones

REDMOND, Wash. – Microsoft’s decision to turn on a do-not-track header by default in its newest browser has drawn criticism from many in the ad industry who support self-regulation, according to multiple media reports.

While the self-regulatory group Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) has said it would require members to honor do-not-track commands only if users “affirmatively” choose to activate them, it does not expect ad networks to adhere to ones set by default, rather than by consumer user choice.

“It’s hard for me to believe (that) anyone could follow the command, when it’s not really a consumer choice,” DAA counsel Stuart Ingis told Online Media Daily. “It’s a unilateral decision, made by one browser vendor, without input by anybody.”

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has also publicly spoken against Microsoft.

“We request that Microsoft reconfigure IE 10, which is now in preview mode, to contain a default ‘off’ browser setting for it’s ‘Do Not Track’ function,” the association said in an official statement. “This change in mode will provide consumers a real choice as to whether they do or do not want tailored advertising, the information to make a reasoned choice, and therefore will be consumer empowering.”

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has also reiterated its commitment to “providing transparency and honoring consumer choices in online advertising.” Today, the Internet contributes $300 billion to U.S. GDP and provides jobs for more than 3.1 million people, while consumers derive $64 billion in value each year from the free content and services available online, according to the DMA. The revenue generated through online behavioral advertising makes all of this possible, the DMA said.

“A default ‘Do Not Track’ mechanism is bad for consumers and the Internet economy,” said Linda Woolley, DMA’s acting president and CEO. “It deviates from widely accepted responsible industry practices and undercuts consumer choice.”

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