Websites: Do you remember a time before you had one? Remember when customer communications were monologues, not dialogues? If you don't remember, you should probably start talking to some of your more "experienced" colleagues about how we got to know our customers before the Internet—before customers could indicate their preferences with a clickthrough or actually "like" us on Facebook. In the debate over cookies, marketers have much to lose.
Like most of you, I've been reading the articles about the E.U. Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, or cookie law, which actually took effect in May 2011 but was given a 12-month stay of enforcement by the UK's Information Commissioner until May 25, 2012. The law requires companies to get permission before allowing marketers to place cookies on a computer.
Website owners must get informed consent, which means explaining to visitors of your site what cookies marketers will place, what data they will collect, who would own and/or see the data and how the data would be used. People, smarter than me, have written about the impossibility of this task to no avail. At the same time, the U.S. is considering the idea of Do Not Track, which would allow consumers to opt out of not only online behavioral advertising but also potentially many other vital online analytics and measurement functions. I don't know about you, but the detail of these debates is giving me a headache.
I like the Internet. I like the ease of immediate access to information, products and services. I don't consider myself naïve, so I understand that I have to trade some of my information to make my website experiences simple and relevant. But when I read that more than 100 cookies could be generated at a single website, I'm amazed. I can at least understand why the debate got started, even if I don't like where it's going.