From the Digital C-Suite

Where we stand on online privacy and transparency

More news broke this week about lawmakers working on legislation to better protect the personal details accumulated about online users.

I take Rep. Rick Boucher at his word when he says, “Our goal is not to hinder online advertising.”Many in the industry don’t, however, and worry that rigid laws will hamper a still-evolving advertising model and mire the online experience in a web of opt-outs that will hinder both advertisers and publishers.

But the bottom line is, whether it comes from an industry’s self-policing efforts — which numerous ad organizations have promised to step up as an alternative to legislative action — or from a newly minted law courtesy of Washington, transparency is vital to the success of online advertising.

I’ve been vocal on this point, speaking out in industry forums including AdWeek and Adotas. And I’ll continue to talk about it because it’s something that the industry needs to grasp in order to succeed.

Providing options for people to understand the quid pro quo of their online activities — I get access to the content I want in exchange for looking at a targeted ad, which by the way, I may even find helpful or interesting — will only help online business models evolve to legitimacy.

At Bizo, we are building a company from the ground up with total transparency as one of our main tenants. Anyone can go online to view their own bizographic profile, edit it, and even opt out of targeting. Ultimately, this puts the control in the user’s hands, and let’s them decide on their own quid pro quo.

The advertising industry will continue to be mired in this controversy as long as its practices are conveniently hidden. Avoiding transparency is a losing battle and on the wrong side of the ethical argument. Transparency is critical to industry legitimacy and we’re looking forward to seeing more industry players move in this direction.

So where do we stand on online privacy and transparency? We want more of it!

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