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Distributor's Link Magazine Spring Issue 2011 / VOL 34 / NO.2


44 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Joe Dysart Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Thousand Oaks, California. A journalist for 20 years, his articles have appeared in more than 40 publications, including The New York Times and The Financial Times of London. During the past decade, his work has focused exclusively on ecommerce. Voice: (631) 256-6602; web:; email: CAUGHT LOOKING: PRIVACY ADVOCATES DEAL FASTENER MARKETING A BLOW WITH ‘DO-NOT-TRACK’ Fastener Distributors that rely heavily on Web marketing are in for a rude awakening in the coming year, as privacy advocates begin crippling their ability to track visitor activity on their own Web sites, as well as across the Internet. In practice, the backlash against visitor tracking – commonly known as ‘Do-Not-Track’ – is expected to make it tougher for fastener marketers to monitor which visitors are using their Web sites, and how they’re using it. Such data is critical to the Web analytics programs currently running on virtually all commercial Web sites of any consequence, which sliceand-dice visitor info to continually make Web sites more user friendly and more effective. In addition, the backlash is also expected to make it more difficult for fastener distributors and manufacturers to advertise on other Web sites, as Do-Not-Track features on newer browsers make it impossible for advertisers to target ads based on an individual’s Web use. For years, visitor tracking has been regarded with mixed feelings by Web users, who are often at once charmed -- and creeped-out -- by a Web site’s ability to serve up content and ads specific to their interests, even if it is the first time they have visited the Web site. Ironically, one of the greatest blows to visitor tracking In a trend-shifting move, Microsoft announced plans to include powerful anti-tracking technology with the next version of its browser, Internet Explorer 9. In its December report, the FTC expressed frustration over what it sees as industry footdragging on Web privacy. Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, are also strong advocates of Web surfing privacy. will come from Microsoft, which is now offering a powerful Do-Not-Track feature with Internet Explorer 9. “‘Tracking Protection’ in IE9 puts people in control of what data is being shared as they move around the Web,” says Dean Hachamovitch, a vice president and head of Internet Explorer development at Microsoft. “It does this by enabling consumers to indicate what Websites they’d prefer to not exchange information with.” Simultaneously, all visitor tracking will also be under attack from the Federal Trade Commission, which released a report in December (, advocating the use of Do-Not-Track technology Web-wide. The agency is currently soliciting industry comment to determine how such a technology can be best implemented. “The FTC has been calling on industry to implement innovations,” since 2008, says David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Although there have been developments in this area – an effective mechanism has yet to be implemented on an industry-wide basis.” One of the reasons the FTC has been so tenacious about visitor tracking is that few Web users realize just how pervasive the monitoring has become. A visit to a single fastener Web site, for example, can actually trigger tracking by several other companies. One company may have an ad running on please turn to page 180

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