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“Do Not Track” a Mistake?
By: Janet Kalandranis
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There’s an ongoing discussion these days around cookies, online tracking, and behavior-driven ads. Some groups want to give consumers the option, whereas the other side is more about education and choice. Unfortunately, there’s no standard on this topic, no guideline to follow from the past, and no golden answer. It’s all new territory that’s confusing and exciting at the same time. Most important, the future of tracking affects the possibilities all brands will have in the future.

Microsoft announced that its newest version of Internet Explorer (version 10), set to launch in the fall, will include a DNT option — that’s a “Do Not Track” capability. Seems like a simple little feature that allows consumers to make a decision. But with little education and description around the impact of this option, the public may not understand what this button truly means. Thanks to Microsoft, there’s now going to be a precedent moving forward that “Do Not Track” is needed across the board. Again, not the best news for brands.

Sometimes the approach can determine the future success of any type of change. Instead of simply placing a “Do Not Track” option out in the open, it would have been more responsible for Microsoft to explain the effects of the choice. Yes, turning on the feature would mean consumers’ privacy is held to the highest standard and what they are searching and viewing is kept personal, but there’s more to the story here. The data and personalization consumers expect today will no longer be the same, so those annoying ads that have nothing to do with a person will now be back in full force. Think Internet when banner ads first launched. That’s what consumers will be getting with DNT, and what brands are up against.

What’s the alternative? Education and choice. Brands need to help force the conversation in this way. Let consumers know that tracking is used to help better determine their needs, wants, and lifestyles to bring them more personalized information, something many consumers are taking for granted today. They want relevant content, but in order to get this, consumers must make a choice. It’s the job of all brands to discuss this topic, help the audience understand it, and then ultimately let them decide.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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