Computerworld, however, was not able to find any public statements by the ANA or the IAB taking Apple to task for Safari's by-default blocking of third-party cookies.
The industry's silence may have been based on the small share Safari has of the desktop browser market: Just 5.4 percent in February, according to metric company Net Applications' calculation.
But Safari is the dominant mobile browser, with a 55.4 percent share there last month. Net Applications data showed that mobile accounted for 13.2 percent of all browser usage in February, making Mobile Safari's contribution 7.3 percent of all browsing. Add that to Safari on the desktop and Apple's browser's overall share, both on the desktop and on mobile, was 14.5 percent, or within shouting distance of Firefox's total of 17.3 percent (Mozilla has an almost-invisible share of just 0.01 percent on mobile).
By ignoring Safari on iOS, the ad industry shows shortsightedness, said Brookman. He had a point. In the last 12 months, mobile's share of all browser usage has almost doubled, climbing from 7.2 percent to 13.2 percent. At that pace, mobile browsing will account for 20 percent of the total by the end of April 2014.
In the end, Brookman saw the ad industry's censure of Mozilla as another example of its determination to stymie change and retain the status quo. "They do want to keep the status quo," Brookman said, adding that advertisers only want to concede the least possible.
Jaffe rejected that. "We have changed the status quo," he countered. "We have spent millions and years to create the program."
He was referring to a self-regulatory program, which includes an educational website and in-ad icons that when clicked let consumers opt-out of behavioral advertising, developed by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a collection of several ad industry organizations that includes the IAB and ANA.
Jaffe claimed that of the 18.5 million visitors to DAA's AboutAds website, only 1 million have used it to opt out of tracking, citing the figures to back up his contention that Internet users are not interested in tracking, surveys notwithstanding.
"The Internet was created on the foundations of advertising," said Jaffe. "There are true privacy concerns of the public, they're serious concerns and should be respected. We are having that conversation with consumers. But Mozilla is cutting off that conversation."
Not every advertiser agrees.
Last Friday, the OPA (Online Publishers Association), a group whose members include major online media outlets like Disney, ESPN, IDG -- Computerworld's parent company -- NBC, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, pooh-poohed the ANA's and IAB's portents.
"In spite of the doom-saying, Mozilla's move to block third-party cookies in the newest version of Firefox does not spell disaster for the advertising and publishing businesses," the OPA said. "If anything, it sheds more light on the need for an ecosystem-wide solution."
The OPA's members, of course, would be little harmed by Firefox's third-party cookie blocking, as they are large enough to sell their own ad inventory, and have little or no need to go to the third-party ad networks whose tracking would be impacted.
Brookman made much the same call as the OPA in his February blog post. Noting that the ad industry had promised the Obama administration it would participate in self-regulation, but that tracking had in the meantime ballooned, Brookman had hopes that Mozilla's move would nudge advertisers to "reach accommodation on a reasonable opt-out regime for third-party tracking," preferably through the W3C.
But if the industry doesn't, it's fighting a battle it cannot win.
"Browsers have a direct relationship with the user," Brookman observed. "On the other hand, ad networks' relationship with the user is intermediated by those same browsers, as well as publishers who are also increasingly worried about user trust."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. See more articles by Gregg Keizer.
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