Everyone is talking about privacy. There have been hearings in Washington D.C. over NebuAd’s behavioral advertising, and now Microsoft is throwing their hat into the ring, with Mozilla likely to follow.
I am an avid fan of FireFox, personally. I believe it is a much better, faster, more secure browser than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. All the of new features in IE7 were practically carbon-copied from FireFox. But that is an argument for another day. The matter at hand is privacy, and how it is going to affect your business in the months to come.
Internet marketers have enjoyed carte blanche to put cookies and tracking pixels all over their advertisements, landing pages and websites for years. This allows them to track enough information to be effective at using the internet as a medium.
Lately, however, there has been an outcry in the media and the public at large over privacy concerns. Just how much information are we sharing with these companies, and how are they using that data? Obviously, the number one goal of most internet companies and marketers is to make money, so you can bet that is how these systems came into existence. The concern is that there is too much personally indentifiable information being traded and stored in these databases.
Google, for one, has been ridiculed for their web search history function. When users sign up for a Google account, they have to uncheck a box to opt-out of web search history. If they don’t do this, and many will not, then Google is tracking every single query that you put into that search box, 24/7.
If you are like me, you probably use Google for just about everything. Need directions? Google it. Need to order a pizza for dinner? Google it. Need to find a nice restaurant for your 5th anniversary? Go to OpenTable, but still, I found that through Google the first time.
With Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft is going to be taking a pro-active approach by trying to block these cookies, and even tracking pixels, before they capture your information. On the one hand, I see the appeal of having stricter privacy on the internet, but on the other hand, that is going to be a huge problem for people that do business and market on the internet.
How are we going to customize our sites to the user for a better experience if the cookies that recognize them when they return are blocked? How will affiliate marketers and ad networks accurately track conversions of pixels are blocked? These pixels don’t capture any information, they are like a switch that goes off when someone gets to the confirmation page of the offer.
If the rumors are true and Mozilla is planning to follow suit with their next release of FireFox in early 2009, it could be a very interesting year for affilate marketing.
I’m sure that we will find a way around it. If there is one thing that internet marketers are lacking, it certainly isn’t ingenuity. We have been able to find a workaround to new technology and have found ways to exploit loopholes at a breakneck pace. The technology and the minds are on our side, and as much as the browser companies can try to thwart it, there is always going to be a way to target marketing on the internet. That is why it was designed, and it is what makes the world of e-commerce go ’round.