At Monday's session of the Internet Advertising Bureau Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Springs, California, Microsoft's Rik van der Kooi presented his company's view on the importance of the ad industry finding solutions for consumers and businesses when it comes to the use of data in online advertising. For video of his complete presentation, click here or scroll down.
After the session, van der Kooi spoke with AdExchanger.com on a range of issues including the Do-Not-Track list and IE9's cookie blocking capabilities.
AdExchanger.com: Why is this the right timing for you to say what you did today about data, from Microsoft's perspective?
RvdK: First - again, I tried to clarify that I wasn't necessarily espousing a Microsoft perspective, but something that I think, for the industry, is urgent. And we've made some good steps with the code of conduct that we ratified yesterday, the ad choices and all the things that we're trying to really push forward as an IAB member. I think those are good things.
But, it's dangerous to think that we can now rest on our laurels and assume that we're good for a while. I think this is an ongoing area that needs a lot of scrutiny and focus from us in order to drive the debate further and see what else needs to be done in our minds.
Indeed, we do need to go further, and we need to engage in a deeper dialog in relationships directly with consumers in ways that can actually generate more value for all of us as well.
Is there a Microsoft perspective on a do not track list? Do you support the idea of a do not track list?
I certainly believe in providing consumer choice. And With IE8, we already have privacy settings. And so with IE9, we have built on top of those with what we consider call a “do not call list,” not a “do-not-track list.” It is more an evolution rather than a revolution. Yes, it's a variation on a theme and you could say a little bit of a natural progression. And the natural progression takes into account a couple of things.
First, for those users who really care about having persistent settings around their privacy, we have now given them that option.
Second thing to keep in mind is it's an option; we are not activating it by default. So that's what it's doing. And you could say, in an environment where privacy certainly gets put under more scrutiny from all sides, it makes sense to evolve; you could say, with the atmosphere, basically what's happening in consumer minds at large. Of course, when we announced, there were others who were quick to follow. I'm not talking about this as about leadership versus following - but clearly they recognize that there is something going on here and we the industry needs to provide more choice to users on how they want to manage their privacy settings.
Let me just clarify something - You call the do not track list feature in IE9 a do not call list?
It's more a subtlety. But, what a tracking protection list is doing is, once you decide to activate the settings, then you decide who you are happy to be called by, activated by, which entities do you personally trust enough to have either ads delivered from. Some tracking may still occur, but the goal is for consumers to be informed about when and to be indeed where your data passes from the site that you're on to the people using some of that data.
What about the universal cookie as an answer? Is this a way, to use your terminology, around the "digital feudalism" that you're describing?
If you place the universal cookie in a new light and in a wider context and make that indeed something that a user would be comfortable in sharing with the sites that they trust, then that's the perfect container. It requires a container. But alternatively, you could think about the container sits in one location, and actually the people that you decide to federate with have access to that container. So it could be just a ping, if you want to think about it in those terms. But, yes, the universal cookie, in the right set of circumstances, with entities that you trust, could be a good analogy.
Can the US advertising economy that's now dealing with privacy learn from some of the global applications that have occurred, if anything? Or are we leading the way in the US?
I think there is always something to learn when you have different geographies looking at things differently. But on this particular point, I actually think Europe is, in many ways, going too far. I wish that the European Union would look across the pond a little more and see what they could learn from the US approaches to some of these things.
Yeah, the European approach is generally one where they feel a need to be very protective, sometimes overprotective, of its citizens. And it seems to latch on to certain topics with great vigor, but not really in a bigger‑picture sense. Whereas here I think there is much more debate and dialog, and then ultimately a decision gets made in a certain direction. So I favor the US model, I have to say.
Getting back to a data‑driven media strategy, how is Microsoft the publisher going to grow this user trust that you described up there with its own data‑driven media strategy?
We certainly want to be on the forefront of growing that trust. We're not talking about any announcements on products, services. I like to think of that in the context of industry initiatives. If the industry does not really think that we should take that forward, do we think that we should, and then take more of a leadership role ourselves? I think the answer to that is probably yes. And then we will look to develop some of these initiatives ourselves that provide more user choice around what data they're willing to share with us versus not share with us, and we'll then see how that develops.
We are also a business that - like all other online advertising businesses - is making money off targeting. And we're not pretending to be whiter than white or different than anybody else there. We do hold ourselves to a high standard and we want to lead the way in thinking about, indeed, even higher standards, potentially.
By John Ebbert