Corporate Eye

FTC’s Wants ‘Do Not Track’ List for Online Advertising

behavioral-trackingOnline behavioral targeting might be in danger for marketers if a new U.S. Federal Trade Commission proposal comes to fruition.  As Internet users lose more of their privacy every day with every click being tracked for behavioral marketing purposes, the FTC is considering implementing a Do Not Track list similar to the immensely popular Do Not Call list that puts an end to telemarketing calls for people who add their phone numbers to the list.

The FTC is calling for an opt-out list not just for behavioral targeting and ad serving but also of data collection entirely.  While there is still much debate about how such a system would work, the concept is one that consumers strongly support.  For marketers, the response is quite different.  Behavioral modeling has been a huge investment for companies in recent years, usurping demographic modeling in many cases.  Getting access to online behaviors was a dream come true for marketers.

It’s safe to assume that the Do Not Track list won’t become a reality in the near future, and it’s final form has yet to be determined.  One thing is safe to assume though — online privacy and tracking Internet users is a matter of contention that won’t go away and some form of government intervention (not just in the United States) is inevitable if self-regulation continues to fail.

Considering how the Do Not Call list in the United States negatively impacted the telemarketing industry, it’s interesting to speculate how a Do Not Track list would affect online marketing and advertising.

On the other hand, those Internet users who don’t add themselves to a Do Not Track list might represent an audience that is more responsive to behaviorally targeted ads and marketing messages.  Might return on investment actually go up if ads are targeted to the smaller audience that wants to see them?  The argument could certainly be made that it could happen.

What do you think?  Do you support a Do Not Track list from a consumer’s perspective?  How about from a marketer’s perspective?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: stock.xchng

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.