While Microsoft Tightens Privacy Policy, Consumer Decisions Point to Opposite Preferences

Recently, Microsoft decided to update its disclosure policy to let customers know it will not use any personal information from Outlook.com, Hotmail or other search and instant messaging products. This is in response to concern from Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey that the company’s latest services agreement gave too much leeway to collect and use customers’ personal info.

This decision comes on the heels of the auto “do not track” setting for the newest version of Internet Explorer, which, as Jason Wadler discussed with the Chicago Tribune, hinders the ability for marketers to deliver relevant advertisements to users, thereby giving users a less relevant online experience.

Although Microsoft is taking a firm approach on privacy policies, consumers are increasingly making choices to the contrary. While these choices aren’t specific to advertising or third party cookies, they do speak to consumer desire for enhanced customization and personalization. For example:

• In ecommerce, Amazon offers its customers choices based on previous purchase patterns, including their shopping cart and search behavior, which is appealing to customers for increased relevancy in the shopping experience.

• Google Chrome now offers the option to sync open web pages across devices, and consumers are opting in to allow Chrome to follow them across multiple devices.

• Facebook and other social media apps enable consumers to access social media wherever and whenever they choose, because consumers want that customized experience in real-time on the device they are currently using.

Though we can’t say for sure if this same pattern will follow through to advertising in general, all signs point to the consumer preferring a personalized experience in many of their digital interactions. As the space evolves, marketers that can provide experiences that are relevant and aligned to consumer preference should continue to drive the most ROI from their investments.



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