Chapell & Associates

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fixing the Cookie Mess

Mediapost - August 25, 2005
LIKE IT OR NOT, IF the growing controversy surrounding the misuse of cookies by our industry and their deletion by consumers is to be solved, it will be up to the publishers to do it. I had the great fortune to spend Monday in Toronto at the AdMonsters conference debating the issue on a panel with Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal, Esther Dyson of Release 1.0, Kiumarse Zamanian of Yahoo!, and Bowen Dwelle of AdMonsters. In attendance, and very much part of the debate, were the heads of ad operations from almost all of the 50 largest ad-supported sites on the Web. It was quite a session. In spite of the fact that each of us has historically taken positions quite opposite from the others, everyone largely agreed almost immediately on a couple of key points. (Disclaimer: I can't speak for the panel and the audience, so this is my version of the discussion.) more...

The Chapell View
I completely support Dave's thoughts regarding transparency. The question is HOW you create the additional transparency. In other words, how do you communicate your privacy practices to consumers who can't be bothered to read about them in your privacy policy?

My friend Lisa Sotto and some of her colleauges at Hunton & Williams have come up with a concept known as the short-form privacy notice. The concept behind the short form notice is similar to some of the ideas being pitched in the context of downloadable software - that consumers are generally not reading EULAs, so the software publishers need to provide notice of certain software functionality outside of the EULA.

The short-form notice has received some good traction in privacy circles, but hasn't gotten anywhere in the online media world. I've tried to help Lisa introduce the short form notice to the some of the online media and advertising trade association, but the response has been less than enthusiastic.
posted by Anonymous on Thursday, August 25, 2005 | |

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Can't even take a vacation without...

I'm spending most of this week down in Florida with my daughter. We took a trip to Disneyworld yesterday. I hadn't been since I was 7, and was really looking forward to it. We managed to do Space Mountain, and others... And aside from the near fainting spell I received on the Madd Hatter's teacups, and very bad "Stitch" experience (in which even my daughter was equally bored and disgusted ), it was a fantastic experience.

One thing that I found troubling. Upon entering the park, the woman at the gate insisted on taking my fingerprints. This is after they already had my name, my CC#, my age, my date of birth and my address. The woman at the gate was not able to tell me why she was taking my fingerprints, nor was she able to say what they will be used for or how long they'll be stored. I started to get my "privacy" antennae up, and asked for her supervisor when my daughter started to become restless. I (presumably like most people there) just kind of shrugged my shoulders, relinquished my prints, and moved on. The "parent" antennae beats out the "privacy" antennae every day of the week...

Now that I'm thinking about this a bit more, I'd answers to those questions. Does Disney now have a file on me? What happens to that information? Does it get erased after a certain point?

If anyone reading this has some additional information about Disney's fingerprinting policy, please share it. Meanwhile, I'll send them a few letters and emails...
posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | |

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Will the adware industry beat Spitzer?

CNET - August 2, 2005
New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer's recent enforcement action against adware vendor Intermix Media has opened up a new front in the battle against this type of software.
Though Intermix claims to have settled the
matter for $7.5 million, any disposition leaves open a number of issues regarding Spitzer's ultimate plan for a possible sweep against the entire adware industry. In particular, Spitzer has repeatedly threatened advertisers who run ads with adware vendors. These threats have created a conundrum for advertisers. On one hand, adware offers advertisers a cost-effective way to reach consumers who derive value from the advertisements. On the other hand, no advertiser wants to get on Spitzer's hit list. Thus, if Spitzer's threat is real, many advertisers will simply forgo adware advertising. But amid the commotion, a critical, substantive question remains ignored: What legal doctrine holds advertisers liable for advertising via adware? We have yet to hear a coherent theory from Spitzer--or anyone else--explaining how this liability arises. In fact, advertiser liability for adware vendors' actions would represent a novel and unprecedented application of current law. In other words, to hold advertisers liable, Spitzer will need to create new law (more...)

The Chapell View
Eric Goldman makes some fantastic legal points. As we all know, the internet is held to a much higher standard than just about any other medium. And as a result, it's difficult to draw too many analogies from the offline world. But newspapers, for example, have much greater accountability to the public than adware vendors currently do. If I think that the NY Times is a "pinko commie rag," then I know who to call in order to unsubscribe. Throught it's brief history, Adware vendors have not been subject to the same level of accountability. While I often take issue with consumers who don't make the slightest effort to understand what they are downloading onto their desktops, I recognize that a good deal of Adware has been downloaded without providing meaninful notice and consent to the end user.

Now - does that mean that the advertiser should be held somewhat accountable? Absolutely. However, I don't think it's fair or reasonable that Mr. Spitzer stretch the boundaries of law in order to do so. And I also don't think it's fair or reasonable for privacy advocates to be calling advertisers and making veiled threats...

However, Advertisers SHOULD be held somewhat accountable. Any brand manager who doesn't fully understand where his/her advertising messsages are appearing is not doing their job. There's a reason that (most) top-tier advertisers are no longer working with bottom feeder quality email list rental and co-registration partners. Doing so devalues their brand. Similarly, any smart advertiser should take steps to understand whether or not Adware is a viable option for their business. And they should endevor to understand the major Adware vendors, and make a reasoned business decision regarding which one(s) might be best for their business.

If there were a system to ensure advertiser accountability, the bad activity would dry up pretty quickly. And that's why Mr. Spitzer (and more recently, the FTC) is waving his sabre. The only trouble is that he's on shaky legal ground at best. So the plan for now seems to be just to scare the hell out of everyone in hopes that fear will be enough of a reason for advertisers to hold themselves more accountable for their own advertising strategy.
posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, August 09, 2005 | |

Monday, August 08, 2005

Can't Spam

Chief Marketing Officer Magazine August, 2005
Fossil, the hip fashion accessory maker, is all about individual style and personal taste. That ethos was nowhere in evidence when the company took its first shot at e-mail marketing six years ago: All 1 million customers on Fossil's e-mail list received a generic message. Every month or so, it repeated the mass mailing for a different product, hoping the message was relevant enough for some section of the full customer base to respond to the offer. The strategy worked fine, initially. But in 2003, the message began to lose steam. Between 2003 and 2004, average open rates on the e-mails dipped by 28 percent, and conversion rates declined by 36 percent. And more customers began opting out of the e-mail list. "One-size-fits-all is really the death knell for e-mail marketing," acknowledges John DeCaprio, Fossil's vice president of e-commerce. "If you hope to fight people clicking the 'this is spam' button every time you send a message, it has to be relevant for that particular audience."

The Chapell View
A well written article focusing on the recent trend towards personalization and relevance in email marketing. It's absolutely a positive sign that dynamic personalization has reached CMO magazine.


I remember talking about this when I was at DoubleClick over four years ago. Although most of the email service providers (Cheetah, Dartmail, Yesmail, Etc) were evalgelizing personalization back then, only a few companies (HP was always a leader in this area) were actually USING personalization tools in their campaigns. The concept of personalizing a message would seem to be straight out of marketing 101. It's amazing to me that it's taken so long for this message to filter out to the rest of the email world.

I recognize that some organizations had legacy database and other techological hurdles to overcome. But for too many, the real issue was cultural - where senior management often paid little attention to the email marketing programs. (i.e., "they're making money anyway, so I'm going to focus my attention elsewhere."

So if your organization is STILL not embracing relevance accross your email program - it's time!
posted by Anonymous on Monday, August 08, 2005 | |

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

In 'cookie' fight, it's not clear who's winning

International Herald Tribune - MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2005
Internet users are taking back control of their computers, and online marketers and publishers are not pleased. But they do not quite know what to do about their conundrum - if it is a conundrum, since they cannot even agree on that. Until recently, Internet businesses could track their users freely, using so-called cookies, tiny text files they secretly embed on the surfer's hard drive. Now, with the proliferation of antispyware programs that can delete unwanted cookies, they often cannot tell who has been to their Web site or what they have seen. And this erosion of control over a tool for gaining insight into consumer behavior has many of them fretting.

The Chapell View
I think it's a positive thing that the great cookie debate continues to penetrate the mainstream media. However, I am a bit concerned that industry leaders such as Greg Stuart and Peter Naylor are not reacting very quickly to the problem.

I would hope that we as an industry are beyond the point where we are still debating the existence of a "cookie problem." There's enough credible research out there that demonstrates that:
1. Consumers are increasingly wary of cookies
2. Consumers don't really understand what cookies are
3. Consumers continue to delete and block cookies
4. Anti-Spyware Software companies (many of them at least) are fanning consumer F.U.D. vis-a-vis cookies.

The "value" of cookies is not necessarily a simple message to convey to consumers. In fact, it's much simpler to portray them as spying, or otherwise clogging up computer bandwidth. Nonetheless, our industry needs to take an active part in the cookie discussion - the good folks at Webroot and Epic are increasingly gaining traction.

We're already seeing a negative impact upon Ecommerce as a result of data breaches and associated ID theft fears. Keeping our collective heads in the sand is no longer a viable option.
posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 | |

© 2005 by Alan Chapell & Associates LLC