Ad Serving Privacy 101 – Being aware of User Ad Choices

The Ad Choices Program


The ad choices program is a system that allows users to opt out of behavioural targeting via a small icon in the corner of the ad. The icon can be implemented by the trafficker inside the third party ad server even during a campaign, and the icon and its functionality will be added to a visual layer on top of the creative. When clicked the user is taken to a page where they can choose to opt out of retargeting altogether or by each technology provider or network collecting user data.

Point solutions by Evidon and Trustee have emerged to provide more complex management facilitates of the user opt-out including statistics for Advertisers specifically. These services come at an additional cost.

Incidentally, opting out of these pools using the opt out methods provided by such programs, requires the dropping of another cookie on that users machine to remember their settings. Deleting of these cookies, removes the memory of their choice to opt out and so users must opt out again after the cookie is expired or deleted.

Do Not Track

To get round this browsers are attempting to implement a cookie-free catch-all for the opt-out or opt-in of cookies which is called the DNT functionality (“Do Not Track”). Discussions between legal parties, browser operators, governmental bodies, regulatory bodies and politicians continue to wage, as consensus around opting in and opting out at different levels of informed consent is mismatched. What is important to note is that opting out of behavioural targeting via a cookie opt out, will not stop ads altogether, but rather stop the occurrence of targeted (and some would say relevant) advertising which seems counter-intuitive to the best interests of all advertising stakeholders including consumers.

DNT is a privacy standard that is sends through a flag to the ad server on the http call and if it is turned on; servers shouldn’t set up tracking cookies for the specific http session. This means that no cookie is dropped on the device. If a user disables the setting, the publisher ad server calls the third party ad server to add a parameter to allow cookie dropping. If the user enables the setting, the third party is called to disable cookie dropping. This will also disable piggybacked technologies from placing tags.

More concerning for Agencies and Advertiser is that disabling cookies will eliminate ability to do attribution reporting and count unique audiences for the purposes of de-duplication. While giving the users a choice to opt out of behavioral targeting and cookies may seem alarming to some marketers, when given a choice, few users choose to disable cookies altogether, according to IAB research. However, some browsers are choosing to ignore consumer choice and are instead force the disabling of some cookies, in particular third party cookies that would allow for retargeting. This directly damages the ability for third party systems to operate effectively and fairly and should be addressed with concern by governmental bodies against the browser’s ability to over-ride consumer choice.

To find out more about using unique cookies in advertising technology across all digital channels, get a copy of: Ad Serving Technology – Understand the Marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet – available now from..

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