OBA self-regulation among ad networks was rolled out early in 2011 and is beginning to gain traction, but what will the consequences be for marketers and advertisers who traditionally relied on cookie and pixel-based tracking to target their campaigns?
According to Direct Marketing News, consumers have been slow to catch on to the new opt-out features (such as the Advertising Option Icon that is now visible in many display ads). Between January and May of 2011, about 5 percent of consumers were aware of the new privacy options. While more have begun to take notice, the current opt-out rates stand below 1 percent.
"These rates should not be the metric used to gauge the success of the self-regulatory program," Direct Marketing News author Fran Maier writes. "The goal of the program is to empower consumers with notice and control and toward that end the program has made substantial progress, with tens of billions of display ads now covered under the program."
Unless there is an exponential spike in the number of consumers who begin to opt out over the coming months it appears that OBA self-regulatory policies can be expected to remain fairly stable so as not to have a material impact on the current behavioral targeting.
There's research to back up the notion that this rate may never climb to a level where it has any material impact on the success of advertising programs. A study by Millward Brown's Dynamic Logic called "Consumer Interactions with In-Ad Notice" determined that opt-out rates stabilize at around .0001 percent, and the improved transparency is more likely to result in favorable impressions among consumers than anything else, ClickZ reports. This is well below any nominal rate where the impact is realized in ROI by Advertisers
While OBA self-regulation apparently serves the dual purpose of protecting the industry while offering consumers option, cookie and pixel-based tracking is still severely limited in reach with less than 40 percent of potential consumers being actively cookied and targetable at any given time. In addition to opting-out many people clear their cache of cookies regularly, and the temporary files tend to expire on their own after 30 to 60 days. Marketers and advertisers who hope to maximize targetable reach may find that adopting a new methodology may boast results while offering the added appeal of respecting user privacy. Semcasting's IP Audience Zones forgoes the traditional cookie and pixel route and instead pools user information from geo-targeted data at the sub zip-code level called IP Zones which is 77 times more precise than zip code coverage with 100% reach. Hundreds of publicly available data points that relate to age, marital status, affluence, political values and more are available for targeting using Semcasting’s IP Zones.