The mobile counterpart to the ad industrys ad choices self-regulatory program that allows consumers to opt-out of online-targeted ads is finally here. And yes, theres an app for it.Called Ad Control, the app gives consumers a way to opt out of cross-app advertising. Developed by Evidon, the app is now available in the Apple App Store. An Android version will be available later this month.When the Digital Advertising Alliance announces in two weeks its mobile privacy standards, Evidons app will allow for compliance.The DAA rolled out its ad choices program two years ago in response to growing concerns at the Federal Trade Commission and in the government that consumers needed to be given a choice to opt out of behaviorally targeted ads. Though regulators seem satisfied that the industry is working to protect consumer privacy online through self-regulation, theyve been pressing for a mobile solution, which the industry has been promising to deliver for more than a year.
As you’ve probably noticed, your Facebook feed turned red last Monday when all of your friends, particularly those in the US or with US friends, including people you had no idea had an opinion on gay marriage, changed their profile pictures to a little pink or white equals sign on a red background. The symbol is a re-colored version of the yellow-on-blue logo designed in 1995 by Stone/Yamashita who declined to comment for this story and its been changed a grand total of once since then. Anastasia Khoo, director of marketing for the Human Rights Campaign is possessive of the image, which looks a little like a corollary to the Swiss flag.
And is she biting her nails over all the variations the internet has come up with? “I have to say, I guess when we decided to make this decision it was almost preordained—in for a penny, in for a pound,” she said, “and I’ve loved it. I’ve been so impressed by the creativity weve seen out there, even from people like Martha Stewart.”
Even George Takei has had a go.
Equality. The final frontier. twitter.com/GeorgeTakei/st…
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 27, 2013
So this post is entitled “Who’s Grabbing Consumer Data from Publishers?” by AdAge but let’s be clear here what they mean is your data from most websites.
Consumers may not know how the world of web advertising works but pretty soon thanks to concerted efforts by the IAB in the UK and advertising campaigns by EDAA due in the summer they should be a bit better informed. In the meantime information is out there but it is on trade and industry blogs and news sites like AdAge.
For most consumers it’s a confusing world that’s hard to understand with company names they have never heard of and know little about. It’s always been one of the challenges of the AdChoices initiative, consumer education is key but enabling opt-out of tracking only works when you know who is tracking you. As can be seen below many of the trackers drop additional trackers so there is a daisy chain of third parties involved and likely only one initial relationship with the website you are actually visiting.
I should disclose here that I work for AOL Advertising so many of the companies we own drop cookies for this kind of tracking, it’s nothing sinister and we don’t want to know you as an individual, we simply want to group people together to package up as an audience.
So as they say in the TV adverts here’s the science bit;
Tracking tags are bits of code that enable ad serving, site analytics, audience-segmentation, and social sharing tools on websites. In other words, tags are what make the web tick. By the end of last year there were nearly 1,000 different tracking tags floating around the top 500 websites. That was over 50% more than the 645 unique trackers found in the first quarter of 2012, according to Evidon.
Evidon’s analysis of tracking tags for FoxNews.com. See links below to launch an interactive version of this chart for one dozen popular websites.
Those tags are pretty active, too. In many cases, one tracking tag installed directly by a site publisher might spawn others, and those still additional tags, and so on. Publishers and other data providers don’t always know whether tag spawning leads to the dissemination of actual consumer data gathered on their sites, or if it is merely part of the cookie-syncing process performed to match a cookie ID in one system to an ID in another for ad targeting purposes.
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