Who Ate My Cookies, Part II – or – Why Do Legislators Think The Internet Is Evil?

Posted: March 20, 2008 in Content, Data Driven, Datanomics, Metrics & measurement, Society & Culture, The Marketing Industry
Tags: , , , ,

I’m getting very frustrated at the hoopla that some privacy groups and legislators are creating over the issuesCookies surrounding behavioral targeting and the collection of online data in general.

How many times do we have to drill into their heads that the vast majority of online tracking is not personally identifiable and therefore does not violate any privacy. In fact the relevancy created by proper targeting benefits the consumer as much as it does the marketer!

By the way – thank you NY Times for helping to further blow the issue out of proportion! … and thank you for making Comscore an inadvertent accomplice. The article from March 10th “To Aim Ads, Web Is Keeping Closer Eye on You” was inevitably going to lead to increasing the paranoia among those not-in-the-know. They write “Five large Web operations — Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, AOL and MySpace — record at least 336 billion transmission events in a month, not counting their ad networks.”

So what? Who cares? This is data that creates a more relevant experience for consumers and for the most part does not capture any personally identifiable information. It’s a win-win for all involved. Give it a break already!

I wrote a piece for Mediapost, published May 3, 2005 titled “Who Ate My Cookies?“, and I figured this would be a good opportunity to rehash the point that I tried to drive home nearly 3 years ago. The piece was actually more-so about an increasing trend of consumers clearing cookies, however, it is appropriately accurate to demonstrate a world without higher level targeting capabilities, something that many legislators would like to see happen based on a false pretense of privacy concerns.

Here is what I wrote 3 years ago in “Who Ate My Cookies?” (Part I):

CLICK! The recent influx of research on this topic makes one thing clear to me – this is just the tip of the iceberg! As media progresses, it will all become digital and something akin to a cookie will be a logistical necessity to keep order and prevent clutter. Tomorrow’s consumer, the teenagers of today, will understand this concept, but how do we educate today’s consumer to become tomorrow’s consumer? Let’s hear it from the source…

Joe Consumer is 35, he is a professional with HH Income of $75k, and has over five years of online experience. Joe uses a software tool to detect spyware, viruses, and other unwanted software on his computer…

I enjoy my online experiences. I buy at least one item from Amazon every other month, and I enjoy the convenience of Amazon one-click. I get my news content from multiple sites and enjoy my content preferences and the lack of clutter on the pages I read online almost every day. Some sites even cater content to me as if they understand my general interests. The thought of having to pay for my content disturbs me. I appreciate not having to pay for content that is subsidized by relevant advertising that interests me, which is displayed in moderation… sometimes I even respond to it. I used to get surveyed regularly regarding products and services that had no interest to me whatsoever, but now I don’t mind answering surveys every so often regarding topics that involve my interests. I love my online experiences!

COUNTERCLICK! Cookies aren’t such a big deal. So they help us maintain order and prevent clutter, consumers have been programmed to believe that cookies are bad – and perception is reality, right? Let’s hear it from Jane Consumer…

Jane Consumer is also 35-year-old professional with HH Income of $75k and over five years of online experience. Jane lives in a parallel universe without cookies…

The Internet is a frustrating place. I hate having to re-type my log-in and passwords for the sites I visit regularly, sometimes I don’t remember, and give up. Half the sites I visit won’t allow me to read a page of content without paying a subscription fee. And what’s with the irrelevant content and cluttered advertising on the free sites? I have seen the same ad a hundred times today. These sites don’t know how to cater to their customers. I’m surveyed constantly, I can’t stand it – don’t they get it that I don’t want to answer the stupid survey? Although I love staying in touch with friends and family, and I cherish my online communities, I’ve pretty much given up on using the Internet as much as I used to; it is so difficult to get the information I want without paying for it or being bombarded with advertising for products that I don’t care about.

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