Wanted: EU online data expert with Internet Marketing Experience. 6 figure salary + perks.
Ok, not really, but as everyone in Brussels is obviously too busy, I thought I would save them some time and write the description for a position they should have created quite a while ago, whenever they first started discussing the now infamous EU Privacy Directive.
It's not very long:
We are urgently looking for someone to join our team with an understanding of the type of data that is gathered by web sites on behalf of marketers in order to help them provide visitors with a good user experience and the kind of products and services they deserve, rather than wasting their time. Knowledge of the tools used to gather this information and the cookies required is also important, as is experience in UI and all major online marketing channels. We're happy to pay a good salary and provide unlimited expenses (this is Brussels after all), but the potential of becoming the hero of every online marketer in the EU may well suffice.
I know that this is a subject that has been blogged and tweeted to death, but there's a good reason for all the noise - it's a huge issue. The point I'm trying to make is this: it's great that the EU want to protect our privacy and, personally, I find it much easier when the same rules apply throughout Europe (just try organising an online competition that complies with laws in the UK, France, Germany and Sweden without going mad), but it seems evident to me that the people who came up with the new directive never considered the effects of applying it - probably because they didn't understand them and didn't have anyone to ask about them. It's similar to a situation I've seen too many times - being presented with a completely finished, brand new web site and being asked to optimise it for SEO without changing anything. Far. Too. Late.
There are commentators I've read who are saying 'It's ok. It's a great big muck-up but a way will be found, or it won't be enforced. Things will carry on as normal'. I don't agree. Econsultancy's e-Privacy Directory Survey, published last week, came up with quite a few scary stats, but the one that got me was this: only 7% of those surveyed believe that web users know what cookies are. Let's say this is correct. How many of the 93% who don't know what cookies are will click 'yes' to a message, however couched, that explains that cookies are being used to track their behaviour?
B2B companies rely heavily on leads, and what makes a good business to business lead? A form filled in freely and willingly is probably the key. But what if, after extensive research, your keen prospect arrives at the page with your form on to find the message 'PLEASE AGREE TO BE TRACKED'? If he/she says no, as some of the 93% definitely will, then that's your warm lead blown out of the water. Yes, I know there are workarounds, but there shouldn't need to be.
I don't actually believe that the figures will be anywhere near that bad, but I do believe that the new directive will turn away an important percentage of potential clients who are currently quite happy in their ignorance (no insult intended) of the existence of cookies that perform a vital role in improving online marketing channels. During a period of economic difficulty for all EU countries the internet is playing a key role in driving business and it therefore amazes me that our central body is introducing measures that will almost certainly harm it.
p.s. I'm quite happy to put myself forward for the aforementioned role!