Chapell & Associates

Monday, May 22, 2006

Does this privacy stuff really work?

Last week, I was invited to present to a group of email marketers in NYC. The luncheon was sponsored by the email marketing division of a large list and data company. It was positioned as a 'value ad' - so the parent company could demonstrate their commitment to privacy. I won't tell you the name of the sponsor, nor will I tell you any of the names of the attendee companies - but I will tell you that we're talking about prominent, top tier brands. I was joined by two other privacy professionals, whom I've known for some time. Also, most of the attendees (being emailers) were from the online divisions of their respective companies.

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the audience' sentiments:

  • The ROI of Privacy was 'nice', but is anyone really doing any of this? - The luncheon attendees were very attentive, and asked some good questions, but the overriding theme of the afternoon was - "I like this in concept, but nobody is really executing this type of program!" This is admittedly a fair point. While there certainly are organizations that are able to affirmatively demonstrate the ROI of their privacy programs (HP being a good example), those organizations are probably not entirely willing to give away the secret sauce to competitors.

  • Great idea, so where's the turnkey solution? - While the attendees were interested in the concept of a ROI focused privacy program, they are generally looking for something they can simply implement. Few (if any) have the stomach (or the time) to take the necessary steps to build this type of program. One of the reason that the Spammer title fits most email marketers is because it's much easier to just hit the SEND button more often than it is to invest the time and capital to develop a real privacy and permissions program. Many attendees complained about fighting for headcount. (Recognizing that this is a challenge for just about all departments, I think it's particularly problematic for online divisions of companies - who've historically positioned their industry as cheaper, better, faster, leaner, Etc... The online ad space in particular is going through all kinds of growing pains as they attempt to find funding to build out infrastructure around governance.... but I digress.) My point here, is that there just isn't anything resembling a turnkey solution yet. Companies need to, for the most part anyway, build their own program from scratch. So until there's several demonstrable examples of robust (ROI driven) privacy and permissions programs, I think most organizations will sit on the sideline and continue to tap on the SEND button.

  • Great idea! I think my email/data provider should be offering that as a value ad service - I think this is a great idea. When I look out at Axciom, Experian, InfoUSA and other large data companies, I see an increasingly commoditized business. The first one of these companies that is able to demonstrate that they have the capacity to help build out an effective privacy and permissions program will have a HUGE advantages over the rest of the field. (In case any of them want to hire me to help build one of these programs, I'm all ears....)
posted by Alan on Monday, May 22, 2006

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