Better Advertising’s Scott Meyer On Privacy Survey Concerns Limiting Online Ads

PrivacyA new study released by The Ponemon Institute, and covered here by The New York Times, says that privacy concerns are impacting online ad spend. From the Times article: “Privacy issues have prompted marketers to use online behavioral advertising — based on tracking a user’s Web browsing habits — 75 percent less than they would otherwise.”

Better Advertising‘s Scott Meyer discussed the study as well as marketers’ perceptions of behavioral online advertising. What surprised you about the result of the The Ponemon Institute survey?

SM: We were surprised that the response was so close to unilateral. 88 of the 90 companies surveyed have curtailed their spend. This has been keeping hundreds of millions of dollars of online behavioral ad spending out of the market.

We expected some companies to report that they were staying on the sidelines, but not this kind of unanimity.

In a recent NY Times article, you said, “If we can bring transparency to this market, it will be a turning point for the industry.” What is the transparency you’re referencing?

Right now, it’s the transparency regarding which companies are involved in collecting and using consumer data to target online advertising, and how they are using it; then empowering consumers to have control over how they are tracked online. This is what’s envisioned by the Cross-Industry Coalition Self-Regulatory Principles.

Meaningful transparency provides the immediate turning point for our industry, since we know it can engender more trust in the online market among leading marketers.

Those who participated in this study made that very clear. Over time, the kind of transparency we’re talking about will expand to multiple platforms and geographic as well. In our view of the world, as markets for consumer data become more prolific, it will have to.

When do you think the concern that certain advertisers have with behavioral advertising will be abated? Care to take a guess on timing and specific circumstances?

I think by the end of this year, you will see real changes in perception among advertisers as the Cross-Industry Self-Regulatory Program rolls out.

But, it will take longer than that to completely turn the tide.

By John Ebbert

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