Microsoft and privacy.
Change of track.
Data on people's online behaviour are worth both paying for and arguing over.
AN OLD saw has it that half of all advertising budgets are wasted-the trouble is, no one knows which half. In the internet age, at least in theory, this fraction can be much reduced. By watching what people search for, click on and say online, companies can aim "behavioural" ads at those most likely to buy.
In the past couple of weeks three deals and a quarrel have illustrated the value to advertisers (and their suppliers of software) of such fine-grained information. The first deal came on May 23rd, when Oracle said it was buying Vitrue, which helps firms run their marketing on social media, for a reported $300m. On June 5th it added Collective Intellect, which analyses what people say about companies on Facebook, Twitter and so forth, for an undisclosed sum. A day earlier Salesforce.com, a cloud-computing company mustard-keen on social media, had said it would pay $689m for Buddy Media, a competitor of Vitrue's. Buddy should fit in with Radian 6, which, like Collective Intellect, monitors social media—and for which Salesforce paid $326m last year.
在过去的几周，三笔生意和一席争吵共同道出了这些精确的信息对于广告商的价值（还有他们的软件供应商）。第一笔生意来自5月23号。当时甲骨文公司宣布正在收购帮助企业在社交媒体上做营销的公司Virtue，媒体公布的报价为3亿美元。在6月5日，它又将用于分析用户在Facebook, Twitter等社媒上用户对公司发表的评论的Collective Intellect软件纳入收购计划，收购金额没有公布。日前，对社交媒体极其感兴趣的云计算公司Salesforce.com公布将以6.89亿美元的价格收购Vitrue的竞争者Buddy Media。Buddy 可以使用Radian 6软件，后者像Collective Intellect一样可以对社媒进行监控，Salesforce去年为这款软件出价3.26亿美元。
The quarrel is the latest round in a long-running argument. Should advertisers assume that people are happy to be tracked and sent behavioural ads? Or should they have explicit permission? Many people give scarcely a thought to being electronically snooped on as they browse, but some object furiously.
In December 2010 America's Federal Trade Commission proposed adding a "do not track" (DNT) option to internet browsers, so that users could tell advertisers that they did not want to be followed. Mozilla's Firefox, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari all offer DNT; Google's Chrome is due to do so this year. In February the FTC and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a consortium of trade bodies, agreed that the industry would get cracking on responding to DNT requests. In the European Union a new rule requires websites to ask before using "cookies" to gather data about users' behaviour.
On May 31st Microsoft set off the row. It said that Internet Explorer 10, the version due to appear with Windows 8, a new incarnation of the software firm's operating system, would have DNT as a default.
5月31日，微软率先做出了行动。据称将随该公司最新操作系统Windows 8一起面世的Internet Explorer 10浏览器将把DNT作为默认选项。
Advertisers are horrified. Human nature being what it is, most people stick with default settings. Few switch DNT on now, but if tracking is off it will stay off. Bob Liodice, the chief executive of the Association of National Advertisers, one of the groups in the DAA, says consumers will be worse off if the industry cannot collect information about their preferences. People will not get fewer ads, he says. "They'll get less meaningful, less targeted ads."
广告主一阵恐慌。"保持原样"是人类本能，很多用户都坚持使用默认选项。没有几人会将DNT选项打开，但跟踪一旦被关闭它就将保持关闭状态。DAA内的组织，国家广告联盟（Association of National Advertisers）主席Bob Liodice说：如果广告行业不能收集消费者的偏好信息，他们的情况将更糟。他说用户看到的广告数量不会减少，但是"他们收到的广告将更没有意义，更缺少针对性。"
It is not yet clear how advertisers will respond. Getting a DNT signal does not oblige anyone to stop tracking, although some companies (including Twitter) have promised to do so. Unable to tell whether someone really objects to behavioural ads or whether they are sticking with Microsoft's default, some may ignore a DNT signal and press on anyway.
Also unclear is why Microsoft has gone it alone. After all, it has an ad business too, which it says will comply with DNT requests, though it is still working out how. If it is trying to rile Google, which relies almost wholly on advertising, it has chosen an indirect method: there is no guarantee that DNT by default will become the norm. DNT does not seem an obviously huge selling point for Windows 8-though the firm has compared some of its other products favourably with Google's on that count before. Brendon Lynch, Microsoft's chief privacy officer, blogged: "We believe consumers should have more control." Could it really be that simple?
同样不清晰的是，为何微软一枝独秀地采取了行动。毕竟它也有广告业务，据称这些业务也将响应DNT请求，尽管该公司正在研究如何做到这一点。如果它想激怒几乎全靠广告业务运营的谷歌公司的话，那么它选择的方法可不太直接：没人保证DNT将成为规范。而且DNT看起来也不会成为Windows 8的巨大卖点——尽管微软为了自家利益，以此为标准将旗下的其他产品与谷歌做了比较。微软的首席隐私官Brendon Lynch在博客中写到："我们坚信消费者应该有更多的控制权"。事情能这么简单吗？