Microsoft will soon be introducing a new version of Internet Explorer which will make “do not track” the browser’s default setting. The idea here is to help protect user information from being automatically tracked by online advertisers. In theory this sounds like a logical step. In reality, it could greatly reduce the consumer experience for most people.
As Leapfrog Online EVP Jason Wadler shared with the Chicago Tribune: When used in the right way, following a consumer’s online behaviors actually benefits the consumer by ensuring that “things that are relevant come up in the advertising experience. If advertisers lose the ability to target an individual or target a consumer segment, then consumers will instead see a whole bunch of random ads that they don’t care about, and that’s not a good experience.”
Without question, concerns over online privacy are legitimate and must be addressed in earnest by the industry. In reality, responsible advertisers only need a small amount of data to vastly improve their ability to deliver relevant content to an online consumer. While the industry needs to actively manage and discipline advertisers that use consumer data irresponsibly, a few irresponsible players shouldn’t result in broad reforms that could damage the overall browsing experience for the vast online audience. As Jason explained, taking away the advertisers’ ability to deliver content, products and services based on what a consumer may want given their past browsing behavior will simply result in random, irrelevant ads that may actually harm the user experience rather than improve it.