Yahoo has introduced what it’s calling “Ad Interest Manager.” It’s a new kind of privacy and advertising dashboard for consumers where they can opt-out of behavioral targeting or, alternatively, indicate to Yahoo what they’re most interested in. Here are the features according to the press release out this morning:
Yahoo!’s new Ad Interest Manager tool:
- Provides a central point where Yahoo! visitors can assert even greater control over their online experience.
- Gives visitors an unparalleled view into the information used to deliver interest-based advertising.
- Shows the visitor both Yahoo!’s educated guesses about their interests and a summary of observations, along with other information they have provided.
- Provides a list of specific interest categories that Yahoo! has placed a user into and lets people turn those categories off.
- Allows people who don’t want to see interest-based ads to turn them off entirely.
Google did something similar not long ago, creating a central place where users to indicate interests or opt-out of behavioral targeting altogether. Here’s what the Ad Interest Manager on Yahoo looks like, with a prominent “opt-out” button and vertical, interest category buttons that can be turned off or on:
A new survey from Synovate indicates that “32% of Americans say they would like this [behavioral targeting] technology if none of the data could identify them” but “35% of Americans aren’t convinced they couldn’t be individually identified so they aren’t interested in this technology at all.”
Some version of what Yahoo and Google have done, with a clear central dashboard like the above, will be required in the near term from the broader marketplace. It’s smart from several points of view.
For those who do indicate interests, presumably response rates to display advertising will be higher and/or the ads shown will have a greater impact. Most people probably will not interact with these pages but in those cases they provide a kind of cover against the criticisms of behavioral targeting that have been leveled by lawmakers and consumer groups.
I’m not trying to argue, however, that this is being done cynically to fend off regulation. Not at all. But I think that it potentially preempts the imposition of such a system from lawmakers, which have been gearing up to do so.
Now that Yahoo and Google have done this, I would expect Microsoft and AOL to follow (and probably Facebook and MySpace). Major publishers and ad networks that don’t take the initiative and offer something similar will have it forced upon them by regulators.