Ms. Clark said the name itself, do not track, puts people off,
but what isn't explained is how the web will change for consumers
when publishers and advertisers can't identify visitors through
anonymous tracking technologies.
"One of the things lost in this debate is consumers will have a
materially different experience online," she said. "And I think
we've got to champion that more loudly."
The ANA originally published its open letter against Microsoft's
decision Oct. 1, just before the company was to pitch benefits of
its new Windows 8 operating system during Advertising Week in New
York. The issue remained high on the ANA's agenda last week, too,
even if individual advertisers said it won't make them stop buying
ads from Microsoft.
Asked if the controversy would affect his advertising
relationship with Microsoft, P&G Global Brand-Building Officer
Marc Pritchard replied: "Nah." He would, however, have preferred
Microsoft to prompt a choice for people who install the new
browser, rather than go with a default setting. (Microsoft will
prompt a choice when installing the browser, but the default will
be do not track.)
"I wish there were a really simple way to make sure that
consumers knew what their choices were and even knew the
implications of their choices," Mr. Pritchard said, acknowledging
that explaining the issue clearly to consumers and making the
choice simple is both a technology and a communications
Walmart Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn, incoming chairman
of the ANA board and another signatory of the letter to Microsoft,
likewise said he doesn't expect the controversy to affect the
retailer's advertising decisions.
Mr. Quinn said his biggest issue is that the default setting
will negatively affect the online user experience for many people
"who won't know why."
He described do not track as "not as big an issue for Walmart as for some
other advertisers," pointing to Unilever VP-Global Media Rob Master
as having been particularly vocal about the issue among board
members. (Mr. Master declined to comment by deadline.)
Mr. Quinn said Microsoft's decision to stick with the default
setting "doesn't seem like something that was unplanned on their
part," adding that the company must "be willing to take the flack"
because it needs the feature for competitive reasons.
That said, Microsoft shows no sign of backing down as both sides
try to assume a position on the high ground of consumer choice. In
an e-mail statement Friday the company said its consumer survey
showed the default DNT setting was preferred by 75% of PC users in
the U.S. and Europe.
In an email statement, Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon
Lynch said the default DNT approach "is part of our commitment to
privacy by design and putting people first. … We also
believe that targeted advertising can be beneficial to both
consumers and businesses. As such, we will continue to work toward
an industry-wide definition of tracking protection."
Mr. Lynch said that in the "express settings" portion of its
Windows 8 operating system "consumers can easily switch DNT off if