The good news for today is ‘Do Not Track’ (DNT) legislation is not in place, but there are industry efforts to self-regulate. I call this good news not for the fact that I am against consumer privacy, but the inability of law makers to create a regulation that is meaningful. Typically, their efforts do nothing but add cost to performing the same task as before or have some unforeseen consequence that is extremely harmful to the industry being regulated. This may be a bit more opinion than fact, but I am always concerned about regulations being generated by people whom do not understand the industry well enough.
For those of you unfamiliar with the basis for DNT regulation, here is a quick excerpt from the FTC privacy report:
The Commission commends recent industry efforts to improve consumer control over behavioral tracking and looks forward to final implementation. As industry explores technical options and implements self-regulatory programs, and Congress examines Do Not Track, the Commission continues to believe that in order to be effective, any Do Not Track system should include five key principles. First, a Do Not Track system should be implemented universally to cover all parties that would track consumers. Second, the choice mechanism should be easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to use. Third, any choices offered should be persistent and should not be overridden if, for example, consumers clear their cookies or update their browsers. Fourth, a Do Not Track system should be comprehensive, effective, and enforceable. It should opt consumers out of behavioral tracking through any means and not permit technical loopholes. Finally, an effective Do Not Track system should go beyond simply opting consumers out of receiving targeted advertisements; it should opt them out of collection of behavioral data for all purposes other than those that would be consistent with the context of the interaction.
I believe it is only a matter of time until there is some regulation that effectively translates into what the DNT regulation is trying to accomplish, and when this occurs there could be some interesting winners. Anyone whom collects consumers’ interests, behaviors, or intentions with the consumers’ permission will see the value of their data skyrocket. Companies with capabilities that allow consumers to tell the market when they are ready to buy will see an uptick in the value of their leads.
Consumers will still be willing to provide significant amounts data to Social platforms, like Facebook and Google. The social graphs generated by these platforms will become one of the most significant data assets to tap for marketing efforts. This is not to say that the social graph is not significant today, but only to say that it will become more significant when this legislation passes. We will be reliant on companies and platforms that provide enough incentive to consumers so that they will share more and more information about themselves. Something to note from this is that if you are not tapping into the social graph today you are missing the boat. You will have to swim very fast to catch-up if you let DNT pass before you figure this out.
There will also be other changes. We will see a rapid evolution of consumer intention based tools to feed our brands permission-based leads. We will have to further adapt our preference centers to encourage more engagement or find platforms that aggregate consumer intention for us. This is where the Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) market begins to move to the forefront of the CRM world. Things like the Want button and MightBuy app will begin to become more commonplace.
It will be interesting, and many of these things I spoke about will begin to take form with or without DNT legislation, but I would like to point out a few key takeaways from this post:
- Pay close attention to DNT efforts, because the impact will be significant.
- Regardless of DNT, start tapping the social graph.
- Start to explore VRM or consumer intention-based capabilities. You may be able to apply some practices to the way you think about your preference center or areas of consumer engagement.