Tracking Panic

by Omatic Design


THIS STARTS WITH presumptive rights.  In an online world, individuals presume they have the right zip around in the funsphere willy-nilly and take what they want. And why shouldn’t they be able to control their presence and the trail it leaves? In an online world, the advertisers presume they have a right to this trail because, dammit, don’t you get it? We birthed and raised the Internet as it is…with advertising!

Now the FTC is making online advertisers reach for their top shelf Scotch with their proposal to institute an opt-out “Do-Not-Track” browser function. Here’s a hilariously one-sided, industry-centric article from the Times forecasting dead puppies and no rainbows ever again should advertisers’ presumed rights be trampled by the guv’ment. (And consumers’ rights because it’s universally understood that all advertising is beneficial to consumers, natch.)

Most of these declarations of End of Days rest on the idea that most users will opt out of having their online lives tracked for the benefit of targeted advertisers. It’s a disingenuous alarmism that only takes into account the worst case scenarios. This isn’t about the “majority” of users opting out, it’s about the smartest, most savvy users yelling “NoNoNo!” and hiding behind a tree. Advertisers would be loathe to lose these peeps.

I can’t even see half of online users taking the trouble to opt out. For the all the parallels drawn with telemarketing opt-out lists, online tracking and targeting is quiet, passive and near invisible unlike a shrill call at dinner time. And even in a world of heightened public awareness of the siren calls of marketers, advertising still carries on. Of course the party line is world panic should the uninformed masses not know where to get the best deal on Mrs. Butterworth’s. Heaven forfend this perfect world of online advertising ever change. But we all know that marketing is water. It’ll find its way through the cracks. If this all even comes to pass some dust might fly and some feelings might get hurt. But everyone will retie their shoelaces, wipe their noses and soldier on.