Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Opting out of tracking?

AOL to allow users to opt out of tracking
The New York Times
AOL is set to announce plans to create a user-privacy database similar to the FTC's "do-not-call" list that protects people from unwanted telemarketing solicitations. Users would be able to decline to receive advertising that's based on their demographic and behavioral information. The move comes in advance of a two-day FTC forum dealing with online privacy that kicks off tomorrow.

Bad move or not?
This is tricky. Phone calls actually invade your life. A banner ad is just a peripheral on a screen.
I think 3 types of users will arise:
  1. Most users won't even know they can opt out and behavioural targeting will remain
  2. The smart users who are aware will realise that it will actually serve them better. If they opt out, the ads will still be there and more annoyingly because they won't speak to them specifically. If they keep the opt in option, users will see more value in receiving tailored messaging.
  3. There will be the typical bunch of crazy users who opt out. These are the 5 people who complain about a visual of some upper thigh in a G rated timeslot. These people have nothing better to do with their spare time
AOL is making an interesting move. They are following the surge of "openness" recently shared through the Facebook scenario. By Facebook becoming an open/free platform to users, we saw a positive response and surge towards the medium. It is a platform for the people by the people. And it works.
Who else is doing it...Google, Apple... these guys are big players.
AOL is really opening up to their consumer. The gesture implies that they care about their user. They don't want to rub them the wrong way and want to give their base an option. Consumers respond more warmly to this approach.
That's why I think, in the end, most of the AOL user base will continue to opt in to tracking.

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