The odds were nearly 40:1 and Lee Tien wasn’t doing very well against the ire of a roomful of direct marketers. Yet most of the marketers in the room already knew that Tien, a senior staff attorney with the San Francisco-based legal advocacy nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, was mostly presenting statistics that backed up presentations from the other panelists in the “Trends, Threats and Issues in Online Behavioral Marketing” Monday session at DMA09 in San Diego.
Tien was called to task by an audience member who took issue with the concept that consumers are “worried” about marketers and others tracking their online behavior. The word is too severe, the audience member says.
“Consumers no longer know what to expect,” Tien says.
As Tien provided the consumer viewpoint, other panelists provided the background that let marketers know that a different Federal Trade Commission leadership is entering office. Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has made it known that Internet marketers’ days of self regulation regarding behavioral tracking are numbered if they don’t prove themselves trustworthy, says Dan Rockey, attorney for West Coast-based business law firm Bullivant Houser Bailey.
Debbie Megee, senior consultant with Melville, N.Y.-based direct marketing consultancy David Shepard Associates, says that marketers can provide consumers with enhanced and more obvious disclosures about how their information will be used and why the disclosures are needed. Notices of privacy policies should have a standard appearance and she pointed out that privacychoice.org can provide them for Web sites.
Disclosures about how the consumer’s information will be used can be embedded into advertisements and marketers can provide links to comprehensive disclosure statements, Megee says. But the best move is to do both, she adds.
Mostly, what marketers need to do is to make privacy policies easier for consumers to find on their Web sites. “What we need to do is come up with easier opt outs,” she says.