The Campaign For Ads Not Based On Tracking

The rise of ad blocking is the leverage Doc Searls has been looking for since the inception in spring 2007 of Project VRM, which aims to change the economic power structure by giving control of data to the customer. Public frustration with the state of the Internet has never been higher, Searls asserts, and he wants to make 2016 the breakthrough year for Vendor Relationship Management.

Author of The Cluetrain Manifesto and The Intention Economy, Searls called for a campaign against the “cancer of ad-tech” and “body-snatched advertising” last week at VRM Day and the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW) at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, and is looking for a few Web publishers willing to turn back time and deliver only ads that are not based on tracking.

Success by one, he believes, will lead more to follow. Many questions remain. Is it really possible to reverse the momentum of the automated programmatic movement?



The acronym CHEDDAR, coined by Don Marti, is how Searls and the members of the VRM movement have decided is the easiest first step to define a new “old” way for publishers to offer advertising.

While ad blocking and tracking are two different animals, CHEDDAR would have implications for cross-channel marketing as well because one of the “D’s” calls for “Do Not Track” — at least beyond a marketer’s own site.

Marti is a strategic adviser to Mozilla and contributes to the project, a way for sites and brands to reclaim the value of online advertising from fraud and ad blocking.

Project VRM first came into being in a session at the IIW. This twice-a-year “unconference” convenes the best minds in Internet identity and privacy to identify and address the issues in a way that is actionable and solutions-based, not just theoretical.

Project VRM is not looking to eliminate the commercial aspects of the Internet, rather to scale back from what Searls considers “disrespectable and unacceptable” advertising — that which is based on tracking, which he derides as despicable direct marketing.

If VRM succeeds, and consumers can signal what they want and initiate a relationship, the role of advertising returns to that of desire-creation, brand-building and old-fashioned sponsorship.

Focus at IIW was also placed on the recent adoption of data-privacy regulations in Europe that are scheduled to take effect in 2018. They have an impact for any global marketer, which effectively means any Internet retailer.

Consensus was that ad-tech and marketing automation are on a collision course with European Union General Data Protection Regulation (known as GDPR).
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