Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox web browser that currently averages 30 percent of the web browser market share, announced new details about a “Do Not Track” HTTP header that would allow users to opt-out of behavioral ads. The feature wouldn’t block all advertising — only personalized ads. If a Firefox user enables the feature, the advertiser would have to replace the personalized ad with a “standard” ad.
Launching this feature won’t be easy. For it to work, both browsers and sites will have to implement it. Mozilla is looking to work with the technical community to standardize the header across the industry.
Privacy Is Important, But So Is Context
It is hard to argue that the internet has not changed the level of privacy for the average person. However, with the trade-off in privacy has come context and relevancy that save time and improve convenience. Some of the most popular services on the web today such as Amazon and Netflix thrive on providing customized and contextual information to each of their users. Context is becoming an expectation for many web consumers. From Google to Yelp, businesses are working to make the web a more personal experience, but Firefox’s planned Do Not Track Header is a step backward, not forward. A contextual internet, not an anonymous one, is the future.
Education Is Greater Than Features
Mozilla’s announcement follows the U.S. government’s call to improve online privacy. In December, the U.S. Department of Commerce recommended the creation of an online privacy bill of rights and an enforceable code of conduct for internet firms handling consumer data and tracking internet users. Again, privacy is important, but the real problem here is education. The vast majority of internet users don’t understand the information they share with companies online. Therefore, users should be educated about what happens when they use a web service in order to understand the experience that information sharing gives them. If educated users are still willing to exchange that for greater privacy, then they will be making an informed choice.
Privacy is something that every online marketer should respect and understand. With Mozilla’s announcement, it is clear that the online privacy debate will continue to heat up. As a marketer, it is important that you understand how the information you are currently measuring relates to your online marketing performance. If web browsers begin to include options for users to opt-out of targeted advertisements, marketers will need to have both customized and standard advertising options. This issue could have a major impact on how marketers measure the success of their online efforts, so it is important that we all stay up to date with this issue.