Forgive the radio silence from Sandlines. I’ve been head down doing things in the real world a bit – though still twittering @sandlines fairly often.
One of the things I’ve been discussing a lot has been the brou-ha-ha that’s kicked off over the past couple of weeks in the UK and the US around questions of privacy… something of a hot topic it seems.
A couple of separate but linked things that have contributed to this:
- the FTC talking (in the US) about its attitude to (and likely approach to) the sticky question of balancing the privacy of consumers against a desire not to constrict fair conduct of business in the online advertising community
- the IAB (UK) announcing their guidelines for ‘good’ practice in privacy against the backdrop of behavioural targeting
- Google’s announcements about the launch of it’s Google Interest programme.
And then there was the call from a journalist for a respected news source asking me if I thought the online industry was operating in an unregulated ‘wild west’ environment.
Now let’s just hold on a moment. There is a perfectly valid legal structure in place (European Convention of Human Rights (1950)/Data Processing Act (1998)/PECR/EC Directive…). All the principles are there.
What’s in question is how do we apply this to our current – and rapidly changing world, both online and otherwise.
What’s also in question is how much people understand this. If we are finding it so hard as an industry to get to grips with what we can/should/will do, how on earth do we expect to be able to convey this intelligently to consumers? Suggesting that it’s all ok because consumers will benefit from more relevant advertising is an argument that simply won’t wash: witness the furore in response to the IAB’s pronouncement a couple of weeks back.
If you want to find a model of how this can be done, I can’t think of a better one than Tesco Clubcard. There is so much information gathered about personal shopping habits – and then used to target marketing messages (amongst other things) that the current world of behavioural targeting online is still a long, long way from matching. And how do consumers react? With an almost visceral sense of attachment to the reward programme attached to the Clubcard.
That precise approach won’t work online; but it proves a point: people will exchange observed behavioural data if the benefits are right.