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Ken Magill

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On This Issue, We Should, Um, Choke, Follow Europe

8/21/12

By Ken Magill

God help me, I’m about to recommend emulating Europe.

This would bring the number of times I’ve recommended following Europe on anything to two—the other being the tolerance of certain adult behaviors considered crimes in America.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Europe. I attended grade school in Leeds, England. I spent two of the most enjoyable years of my life stationed on an Air Force base in the Netherlands. The Magill family’s next vacation will involve visits to Paris, London and castle ruins in Wales.

So it’s not that I dislike Europe. I just don’t think we should try in any way to be Europe.

Except for in the following case:

A visit to UK newspaper Warrington Guardian’s web site recently resulted in the delivery of a pop up saying: “We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies.”

The website barred me from reading any further until I clicked on the pop up, acknowledging I had at least seen it.

The pop up also contained a link to a page for anyone interested in learning more about how the Guardian and its Newsquest-Media sister publications use cookies.

The page offered detailed descriptions of session, persistent, first-party and third-party cookies and why the Guardian uses them.

The page also contained a link to the Internet Advertising Bureau UK’s Your Online Choices web site with a video explaining how behaviorally targeted online advertising works, and what it does and doesn’t do—for example, allowing advertisers to select market segments to target, not identifiable individuals.

But wait a minute. Doesn’t the Digital Advertising Alliance have a Your Ad Choices web site with three videos explain how behaviorally targeted advertising works?

Indeed, it does. But there’s a difference between the two efforts. The Ad Alliance’s videos drip with condescending, smarmy cuteness. They are a classic case of agency creatives saying: “See how clever and funny we are?” at the expense of the message.

The IAB UK’s Your Online Choices effort focuses on conveying the information cleanly and clearly without the distracting, immature creative self-indulgence that mars the Ad Alliance’s effort.

In making their case to consumers for the use of tracking cookies, U.S. content providers would do well to follow Newsquest Media and the IAB UK’s lead.

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