Chapell & Associates

Friday, September 09, 2005

Lost in the Cookie Debate--What About Data Harvesting?

MediaPost - September 9, 2005
Amid the hubbub about cookies and their uses over the summer, one element of the debate seems to have been lost in the mix. Ironically, it is among the more prevalent uses of cookies, and also among the more potentially dangerous uses for publishers.
I'm talking about the instantaneous data harvesting that occurs routinely in the online ad buying/delivery process. Here are two types that have made a few companies and individuals extremely wealthy, while remaining predominantly under the radar of this debate...

The Chapell View
Mark Naples raises some important issues here. Many of us may not want to admit it, but we in the online space adopted many of the age old direct marketing practices - both good and bad. One of the cultural leftovers from our direct marketing past is the concept of "never letting consumers see you make the sausage." I've heard this mantra repeated by more than one "old-school" direct marketers since 1999. The idea is that consumers what consumers don't know won't hurt them, and that transparency could only increase consumer fear and distrust. And while that MIGHT have been true in 1975 (when all we had to worry about was getting an extra copy of someone's catalog) it certainly is NOT true today. There's just too much data out there, and too many marketers vying for consumer attention.

Our industry increasingly recognizes the importance of obtaining some basic level of consumer buy-in regarding cookies. If our industry is going to be in the business of educating the consumer, we need to go all the way. In other words, if we're going to take our message to consumers, if we want to argue transparency, then we can't leave out pesky little details simply because we're afraid that these details might freak people out.

For example, if we're going to provide third parties with access to profiling data, then we need to say so. Similarly, we must acknowledge that web site privacy statements do not neccessarily reflect the privacy practices of those who advertise on the web site.

There are several groups - even a few within the online media/marketing/research world, who continue to take shots at online ad measurement and enhancement technologies. We can't begin to defend our practices if those practices are not transparent.
posted by Alan on Friday, September 09, 2005

© 2005 by Alan Chapell & Associates LLC