Microsoft Not Making Any Friends In The Ad Industry
June 4, 2012

Microsoft Not Making Any Friends In The Ad Industry

Michael Harper for

As Microsoft scrambles to rebrand themselves and their products, they´ve angered a few organizations along the way. First, it was discovered that Windows 8 won´t be too keen on allowing third party web browsers to be installed, drawing the ire of Mozilla´s CEO. Now, there´s a new group of people who are angered about key decisions Microsoft has made concerning the native web browser to be released with Windows 8: Online advertisers.

In their blog, Microsoft announced Internet Explorer 10, which will be released with Windows 8, will have Do Not Track (or DNT) enabled by default. This announcement has not only frustrated online advertisers, it also presents a conflict of interest for Microsoft. As a member of the Digital Advertising Alliance, which recently agreed to allow web browsers to take advantage of DNT only if it weren´t enabled by default, Microsoft has alienated these advertisers in the name of “consumer choice and control.”

“We´ve made today´s decision because we believe in putting people first,” writes Brandon Lynch, Microsoft´s Chief Privacy Officer in his blog post.

“We believe that consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used. Online advertising is an important part of the economy supporting publishers and content owners and helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to go to market. There is also value for consumers in personalized experiences and receiving advertising that is relevant to them.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) says this decision is in direct opposition their standards. Stu Ingris, the general counsel for the DAA says this move is a “unilateral” decision which “raises a lot of concern” for the DAA.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first introduced the idea of DNT in a 2010 report on online privacy. Since then, all major web browsers have incorporated this feature. Earlier this year, the DAA made an agreement to allow DNT to live on as long as the feature isn´t enabled by default.

According to Lynch, however, the DAA has yet to reconcile a way for consumers and websites to understand what is being tracked and how this tracking is taking place.

“At the moment there is not yet an agreed definition of how to respond to a DNT signal, and we know that a uniform, industry-wide response will be the best way to provide a consistent consumer experience across the Web.”

Lynch mentions Microsoft will continue to find ways to reconcile these differences, allowing advertisers to respect DNT signals and users to opt out of behavioral advertising. Lynch also hopes their turning on DNT by default will be “part of the discussion” between users and advertisers.

“While some people will say that this change is too much and others that it is not enough, we think it is progress and that consumers will favor products designed with their privacy in mind over products that are designed primarily to gather their data,” writes Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president over Internet Explorer.