Redmond has been hammering Google for months with its
"Scroogled" ad campaign, which points out, among other things,
Google's use of data from search queries and Gmail for advertising.
It also flags the way Google passes personal data to app developers
through the Google Play Store.
Microsoft took a divergent path from the rest of the advertising
industry last summer when it announced that the latest version of
Internet Explorer would send an automatic do-not-track signal as
its default setting, telling websites not to deploy the third-party
tracking software beacons called "cookies." Mozilla followed suit,
saying that the next version of Firefox would block third party
cookies by default.
The online ad industry would generally rather respect only
do-not-track signals that are affirmatively activated by browser
users. It has not reached consensus on how to treat default
do-not-track settings, with debate continuing to play out among
academics, web technocrats and business representatives in a group
called the WC3. "We want to add the consumer voice to the
discussion," Ms. Snapps said.
The irony of all this is that while Mozilla has no ad business,
Microsoft has a sizable one that relies on third-party tracking and
data collection. Nevertheless, Microsoft Advertising is toeing the
party line. "We believe that transparency and consumer choice are
critical ingredients to building trust between advertisers and
consumers," a spokesman said, in a statement.
The difference is that ad-supported web services are a
money-losing side show for Microsoft but a profitable core business
for Google, which has been ramping up its campaign for its Chrome
browser through video ads and prompts on Google products like
Microsoft's latest campaign focuses on children, and points out
that parents might not want information like a baby's diaper rash
be disclosed to advertisers.
"It's curious that Microsoft believes that a targeted ad to new
parents about diaper rash treatment is offensive," said Stuart P.
Ingis, counsel for the Digital Advertising Alliance, which
administers the online ad industry's self regulation program. "This
on its face to me appears to be more fear mongering to promote
products, rather than education that either describes to consumers
the choices that they have today and the diversity of services that
the responsible advertising industry provides to consumers."