The largest ad network in the world — Google AdSense — is now implementing the new behavioral targeting icon. For the vast majority of web users, this will be their first experience with the new notice-and-choice framework that has been offered as an alternative to government regulation and do-not-track technologies.
How Google handles the experience will have a greater influence on the course of tracking privacy than the combined efforts of all other companies involved in the self-regulatory effort. So here are a few things to watch for as Google rolls out the program:
- Will the disclosure identify the so called “certified ad networks” who may have participated in the targeting of the ad? (See earlier discussion on this topic.)
- Will the icon lead to the industry-wide opt-out page, or only to Google’s own opt-out choice?
- Will Google present options, such as browser settings and extensions, to make the user’s choice persistent?
- Will the icon be presented only on ads that use interest-based targeting, or on all AdSense ads? Put another way, if I have opted out already from interest-based ads, will I see any icons from Google, or will the absence of the icon provide assurance that my choice has been observed? (See earlier discussion on this topic.)