ISBA slams Firefox’s planned advertising restrictions

The UK ad industry has raised concerns over plans for Mozilla’s Firefox browser to block behavioural targeted ads by default arguing it will hurt business and disrupt consumer experiences.

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ISBA claims Mozilla’s plans to block third party cookies, thereby obstructing adverts generated via Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) by default, will lead to a more “scatter gun” approach to online marketing, harming competition and innovation in the process.

The UK online ad body, which represents both brands and media owners, has raised the concern after Alex Fowler, Mozilla’s privacy and public policy leader, confirmed plans to include an option to block third-party cookies by default in Firefox 22.

David Ellison, ISBA marketing services manager, says: “It [blocking cookies by default] will drastically damage the online journey by reducing the internet content and offerings that such advertising supports, harming consumers, hurting competition, and undermining innovation.

“Removing the ability of businesses to track OBA will make targeted marketing more difficult, leading to a ‘scatter gun’ approach – with users being served irrelevant ads.”

Mozilla, a not-for-profit open web organisation, favours web users specifically opting-in to being served OBA and plans to make ‘do not track’ the default option in its next Firefox web browser update.

However, ISBA prefers a ‘no default’ option which requires less specific consent from an consumer to receive OBA, highlighting that Robert Madelin, DG for comms networks at the EC and chair of the roundtable on OBA, also shares this opinion.

“Clearly, the consumer should be presented with sufficient information to make an informed decision on whether they wish to be served with targeted adverts,”adds ISBA’s Ellison.

Earlier this week at Mobile World Congress, Mozilla announced further details of its plans to launch a ‘third mobile ecosystem,’ announcing that 13 global mobile operator groups and were backing its plans to launch a smartphone operating system as an alternative to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

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