In a move that may have significant implications for online advertising sales, Google has just confirmed that by the end of the year, Google Chrome will feature a “Do Not Track” privacy setting.
The decision makes Chrome the last of the major browsers to commit to Do Not Track (DNT), with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari already on board.
Digital technology: a double-edged sword?
The new trend toward greater consumer privacy is likely to stimulate a good deal of creative thinking amongst every advertising sales manager, search engine marketing specialist and business development manager with a stake in internet advertising. And they’ll certainly have their work cut out for them, as advances in technology bring new opportunities and new obstacles in equal measure.
If big data analytics opens a new door for digital advertisers, will DNT begin closing it again?
As we reported recently, Microsoft’s decision to introduce DNT as a default setting on IE10 immediately fanned a wave of protest from the online advertising world. This prompted the company’s Business Advertising VP Rik van der Kooi to publicly reconfirm Microsoft’s commitment to digital business advertising.
DNT: default vs. opt in
Google is yet to spell out exactly how the DNT option will be presented to customers. However, the company’s “Chromium” open source project (which feeds code into the browser) presents it as an “opt in” choice rather than “opt out”, which suggests that, like Apple’s Safari, the decision to evade tracking will remain in the hands of the customer. This places it firmly in line with standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which rejects the notion that browser manufacturers can set DNT automatically for users.
DNT sends a signal to HTTP web pages informing them that the user does not want to be tracked by digital advertisers. One of its creators, Stanford University graduate student Jonathan Mayer, finds the current location of the setting on Chromium cumbersome (it’s currently under the Privacy option on the Settings screen).
Mayer’s verdict on Twitter runs, “Good: looks like Do Not Track will be in the Chrome privacy preferences. Less good: have to click ‘Show advanced settings…to see them.”
It remains to be seen whether the option will become more user friendly by the time the browser moves from its Beta channel to Stable.