At last week's @d:tech conference in New York, FAST floated the idea of a logo -- a P with a circle around it -- that would appear in banner ads and e-mail pitches as an assurance that the advertiser, Web site and ad-serving company have privacy policies in place. Consumers could click on the icon for specifics of how their personal information would be used and protected if they responded to the ad.
Rich LeFurgy, chairman of the IAB and FAST, acknowledged the challenge of pulling together privacy policies of the sponsor, medium and serving company into a clickable icon. However, he contended, "We need to have something [about privacy] where the rubber hits the road, which is where the ads are."
In other issues concerning consumer privacy:
* FAST is exploring an online and offline public-service campaign to promote to consumers the benefits of target marketing. The argument is that collecting -- while protecting -- personal information allows marketers to tailor messages and offers, using the Internet to develop a more efficient marketplace that delivers better values for consumers.
* The IAB added new guidelines requiring members to post and adhere to privacy guidelines on their sites. Mr. LeFurgy said IAB members for the most part have privacy policies in place, but noted that some have not implemented policies because of their concerns about liability should a policy be violated. Mr. LeFurgy said he expects the Federal Trade Commission next year to require privacy policies, so the IAB is moving proactively to get them in place before there is government action.
* Mike Donahue, exec VP of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, predicted Web ad-serving companies will jointly implement a code of ethics on privacy of consumer data. Mr. Donahue said that will happen "not for any altruistic reasons, but for survival reasons" as the privacy debate heats up in Washington.
The FTC today holds a workshop on how Web companies are using data to profile and target consumers (see Q&As, Page 102). Even as the industry steps up its self-regulation efforts, Forrester Research analyst Jim Nail warned: "I'm fairly pessimistic that we're going to avoid government regulation."
SmartMoney.com enters content deal with AOL
SmartMoney.com, an investing news and advice site backed by Dow Jones & Co. and Hearst Corp., has struck a content agreement with America Online. Under the deal, AOL and CompuServe members can access SmartMoney.com's financial planning information and tools.
Chat . . .
Lycos is expected to announce that it has switched from Engage Technologies' Accipiter ad-serving technology to DoubleClick's DART ad-serving technology. DoubleClick and Lycos executives declined comment on the potential switch. CMGI owns most of CMGI and nearly 20% of Lycos. . . . Unilever, which has aggressively expanded its U.S. Web offerings through deals with America Online and others, is pushing the Web worldwide. "Our [global] interactive spending next year will be almost double what it is this year," said Marc de Swaan Arons, director of interactive marketing at Unilever U.S. Unilever promotes more than 50 brands online in North America . . . The joke at a Northern California Internet company that's going public is it might be better off doing an initial public stock offering for a billboard next to its offices, since billboards are the only sign of any dot-com profit in Silicon Valley. . . . A winsome pair: Just when we thought there were enough Web sites with similar business models, along comes another one -- with a familiar name to boot. IWin.com launches at midmonth, a gaming site with much the same concept and moniker as IWon.com, which launched last month with CBS Corp. financial backing. IWin.com won't give away daily cash prizes of $10,000 to surf the Web, which is what IWon.com offers. But IWin will give visitors who come to the site to play its games virtual tokens with which they can increase their chances in drawings for free