All of a sudden, Yahoo and Google want to make it easy for you to opt out of their ad targeting on both their sites and across the Web. Yahoo announced a new one-click opt-out policy today, and Google made it possible to opt out of both Google and Doubleclick ad targeting with one click yesterday.
At least Yahoo was honest enough to come out and say that the new policy was a direct response to Congressional scrutiny over the intrusiveness of online advertising and behavioral targeting. Google’s announcement was buried in a blog post about Doubleclick cookies.
The truth is that both Yahoo and Google would rather take symbolic action themselves than be forced to take a more draconian one later. Who’s going to bother to opt out of ad targeting? Some people will, but the vast majority of people probably won’t. What would really mess up Yahoo’s and Google’s advertising ROIs is if Congress mandated that ad-targeting (via cookies) be opt-in. They’d surely get even fewer people opting in for those cookies than they will now get opting out. I know I’m too lazy to do either.