Microsoft recently announced the release of two new features for IE8 that could potentially have a huge impact on the functionality of ad networks at the end-user level. The first feature, called InPrivate Browsing, automates a process that can easily be done manually; remove cookies, delete history, removed cached files from any websites you’ve visited. The target audience for this feature is obvious, and it’s impact on the ad networks is nominal.
InPrivate Blocking specifically blocks these scripts, so network advertisers are unable to track what sites you’ve visited, what products you’ve looked at, and in general your overall interests. This is a huge win for privacy advocates, and a huge loss for the ad networks. Going forward, this means users of IE8 with InPrivate Blocking will no longer be served targeted ads; relevancy and context in advertising will no longer be possible. Users will still get ads, in fact probably more than before, and what they get will be much more spammy, because the ad networks no longer know what you’re interested in, and will be forced to deliver a one size fits all model. From a business side this will also have a significant impact on ad network revenue, click through rates are likely to drop as ads are forced to become less relevant.
The whole Behavioral Targeting space needs to do some serious navel gazing, they are clearly losing the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers; first NebuAd gets a public ass-kicking and sullies an entire industry in the process, now Microsoft tightens the screws even further. More on this topic soon.