Unfortunately, much of the internet, especially the ‘free‘ internet1 relies upon cookies, and upon tracking users and click streams. That said, IE 8 and its touted much-improved privacy controls will most likely benefit everyone. Not to mention that Firefox (via the Adblock plugin) and other browsers already have these privacy options, and have had them for years.
Microsoft’s newest browser is still only in beta, but it already has the advertising world in a tizzy. Its “InPrivate” set of features on Internet Explorer 8 out this week has publishers, marketers and industry advocates worried that it could block their ability to distribute, track and even monetize what the Interactive Advertising Bureau values as a $21.2 billion-plus internet-ad industry.
IE’s default settings have InPrivate Blocking turned off, but some advertisers are already worried:
For instance, the InPrivate Browsing feature — already slang-termed “porn mode” — only allows a user to hide single browsing session activities from “over the shoulder” viewers such as family members. It does not block ads from being served to the user or from advertisers counting views or clicks.
It works, and got its nickname, by letting users surf porn sites (or any other content, for that matter) without caching any content such as a list of URLs visited, cookies or other data. That could mean no cookies on your computer — as well as no cookies for future use by marketers or publishers, although only during selected InPrivate sessions.
However, it is the InPrivate Blocking feature that seems potentially more worrisome for advertisers. InPrivate Blocking acts to inform users about sites that consistently track and collect browsing histories. In fact, when a user opts into an InPrivate session, it will automatically block third-party content if it detects that the third party has “seen” the user more than 10 times. So, for instance, if the third party is advertising.com and it is serving ads across 10 sites a user has visited during an InPrivate session, it will begin to block advertising.com tracking codes and possibly content on the 11th website.
Mike Zaneis asks:
“With IE’s market share, will so many people activate that so that it could affect the revenue side of the industry?” he asked. “Any content from anywhere that appears as third parties, whether advertising or stock tickers or news feeds, all appear as third parties, and in theory their content could be blocked.
“And if you’re blocking all third parties, you’re also going to block all analytic companies,” he said. “You’d be blocking the companies that do the auditing of ad delivery.” He’s particularly concerned about the potential disruption to the entire accounting system of internet advertising.
[Microsoft Internet Explorer general manager Dean] Hachamovitch concedes that IE 8 has no way of knowing if the content is an ad, a stock tracker or a newspaper column. It can only tell if it is third-party content. So that does mean that any content, say, ads, analytics and more, can be blocked.
- for instance, how many of you really click on the ads at this site? Not many, I presume, though Google still keeps track of you, and of our site’s content to theoretically serve targeted advertising [↩]