TrustArc Blog

Does Opt-In Make Sense?

July 29, 2009

At OMMA Behavioral this coming Friday, we’ve been asked by Wendy Davis of MediaPost to answer the question “Does Opt-In Make Sense?”

In what situations do consumers expect an opt-in in their internet experience? Yes, opt-in makes sense in the context of sensitive data or for linking personal data to a profile – online or off. Even when personal data is tracked it can provide high value to users – such as personalized recommendations to Netflix and Amazon users. For non-personal data, our own research shows that consumers know that they are being tracked for advertising (69%), value relevant ads, but at least half are uncomfortable with tracking (50.5%). And most consumers care about privacy and controlling their personal information. Witness how social networking consumers, such as those on Facebook, more finely draw the line on who and what information they are sharing.

Consumers want control. If a consumer feels that they are secretly being tracked for something used to benefit the site or the advertiser, who can blame them for wanting to block cookies or demand opt-in? Publishers need to embrace the reality that an open transparent relationship about data usages – not hidden away in legalese – will put them in a situation where they will have the permission to use consumer information. Consumers need to know about it and reap the benefits – relevant ads, personalization, content they want, and no “creepy” privacy intrusions.

In talking to TRUSTe sealholders, ad networks, and others, it seems to me that enhanced transparency is being embraced. It might have taken the threat of legislation (still alive), FTC guidance and other arm-twisting, but it appears that the value of straight-talk with consumers, outside the privacy statement, is taking hold. We hope to help.

Catch the discussion at the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco at 2:30 PDT tomorrow. The full panel includes: Ryan Calo, Residential Fellow, Center for Internet and Society Stanford Law School; Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Director, Information Privacy Program, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, Chad Little, CEO, Fetchback; Fran Maier, TRUSTe, CEO; and Omar Tawakol, CEO, BlueKai.

– Posted by Fran Maier, CEO