Q and A with Dennis Dayman: Who wants cookies?
As some of you already know, the European Union (EU) adopted new changes to the EU Directive at the end of December 2009 to make consent required for placing a tracking device or technology onto someone’s computer such as a cookie, flash, or beacon.
European member states must enact this change by May 2011, and it is still unknown how B2B marketers will choose to implement the changes into their own activities. Some may allow browser settings to suffice as affirmative consent, as some companies in the UK already have, while others may choose to enact the strictest version of the regulation requiring confirmed consent for each site visited, regardless of browser settings.
For this post we thought it might be of interest for us to answer some of the questions raising their heads in the marketing arena.
- How will the new directive affect UK business and other EU markets?
- The amended directive simply now requires companies to gain explicit opt-in to drop ANY tracking mechanism used to create a profile on an individual. This is something new to many, but a requirement already in Germany for a while now.
2. How will the changes compare to what is happening in North America and other global markets?
- As said above, the changes are actually similar to an already required process in Germany. Today though, any country outside of the EU does NOT have such a requirement at this time. The U.S. though has had several bills in this area unsuccessfully move forward due to the industry’s self-regulatory practices usually winning over.
3.How will the new directive be enforced and how well will it be policed?
- That is a good question and still one that has yet to be answered. At this time, we know that many of the EU government are NOT prepared at all for this requirement much less how to enforce it. At the same time, we are still unsure how each and every government will take the directive and implement it for their country. Because of this unknown and possible difference between each country, the enforcement could get interesting. Until then, it is hard to say how it will be enforced and how well.
4.What alternative strategies can businesses use to maintain ROI from marketing investment once the new initiative comes into play?
- Well again, depending on each countries interpretation of the directive will help determine how businesses should or need to react. An example could be that the country decided to allow for browser controls to deem consent. What this means is that as a end-user if your browser accepts third party cookies, then you have just given consent to the company to track you and create profile information based on our surfing habits. In all honesty, I don’t think EU marketers should panic. As it stands today, in many personal situations you have a requirement already in place to gain consent to process an individual’s information. Adding this into that process should be trivial and if your lucky many countries will implement the browser consent controls idea. One thing though that you need to check on is whether or not your service provider or in-house marketing systems can garner consent through a check-box or otherwise by May 25, 2011.
The full text of the amended EU Directive can be found here and the new amended tracking section is on page 34 in Recital 66.