FTC Chair Stuns Advertisers

Advertisers feel 2-year DAA program overlooked

In her first speech before the advertising industry, newly minted Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez called once again for a universal solution for Do Not Track. While Ramirez didn't say the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program was not enough, it was implied in her remarks.

“Consumers await a functioning Do Not Track system, which is long overdue,” Ramirez said. “We advocated for a persistent Do Not Track mechanism that allows consumers to stop control of data across all sites, and not just for targeting ads.”

Edith Ramirez

The chairwoman urged the advertising industry to work with the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) to develop a DNT standard that is browser-based, championing Microsoft’s Do Not Track browser and Mozilla’s plan to block third-party cookies.

Ramirez’s position on Do Not Track stunned the attendees at the American Advertising Federation’s annual advertising day on Capitol Hill, who thought they had responded to the FTC’s call two years ago to develop a program that allows consumers to opt-out of targeted ads.

Stu Ingis, the Venable partner who acts as the DAA’s attorney, was frustrated. “We keep getting demagogued by the FTC,” he said following Ramirez’s remarks. “We have solved it. The DAA’s program covers 100 percent of the advertising ecosystem. We made our agreements. The problems have been caused by two browser companies.”

Microsoft and Mozilla have turned into a giant headache for the advertising industry, forcing the DAA to put out a policy statement last year that advertisers would not honor the Microsoft browser because its default setting did not give advertisers choice. The move by the browser companies hasn’t helped the DAA make its case with policymakers and certainly will come up when Sen. Jay Rockefeller holds the commerce committee hearing on Do Not Track in the next couple of weeks.

“We barely get acknowledgement that we achieved our goals,” Ingis said.