Moving Into a New Era of Customer Data Tracking




PHOTO:
Sergey Kelin

As the online world continues to evolve, businesses have found success in utilizing tracking tools to guide marketing tactics and build their platforms. There are many components to online tracking, the most popular of which include cookies and tags.

Cookies are small text files that, with consent, get placed on a user’s device. In turn, brands track their online behavior and decisions. Similarly, tags are the mechanism by which these cookies get stored on a device in order to collect data on interactions. These include pages viewed, products purchased and users access the given website. 

Browser fingerprinting and ultrasound beacons are also important components of online tracking. These play a unique role in how businesses gather important analytics on their consumers.

Privacy Legislation at the Fore of Customer Tracking

Because data tracking usage is so widespread in the online commerce community, there are many laws and regulations that have been put in place to ensure the safety and privacy of users. Notably, European nations, as well as the United States, have strict regulations that police what businesses can and cannot do with customer data.  

The European Union has aggressively cracked down on privacy violations and has been rapidly developing and enforcing laws through the governing body ePrivacy Directive and through the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In the United States, states implement privacy legislation on an individualized basis: California, Colorado and Virginia have their own unique privacy acts in place. Legislation focuses on ensuring users have a concrete set of rights and powers over where their data goes, how it gets used and under which circumstances brands collect the data.

Related Article: Alphabet Soup: Clarifying GDPR/CCPA and What You Can Do to Prepare

Brands Contend With Regulation Challenges

The strict nature of these regulations lead to problems and setbacks for businesses. Why? Because they rely on analytics to make informed business decisions. Often, too many users of a given website will refuse to consent to sharing their information, or the process of consenting is too taxing, therefore businesses may struggle to gather sufficient data that is worth analyzing.

Further, the consequences for violating privacy laws include heavy fines. The European Union has taken over 1,000 enforcement actions since the GDPR took effect in May 2018. Amazon and Google have lost millions over privacy issues.

Related Article: How US Organizations Are Responding to GDPR and the Need for Data Privacy

News Ways to Collect Data

There is now a multifaceted approach to collecting user data in a way that is compliant with new regulations and laws. Gathering anonymous data without the use of cookies is the main solution, much like Google’s Consent Mode.

If a business can collect simple interaction data without any unique identifiers, there is no need for cookies or consent. Why? Because there is no personal information shared or stored.

Also, an optimization of the number of “named” users on a site by assigning value to registration as a conversion event. These solutions help marketers to have the most visibility of data, which can influence campaigns and new advertisements in the most ethical way. It is clear that businesses must adopt practices of this nature, as they can simultaneously respect and protect the privacy of their users without sacrificing the quality of the data itself.

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-2018.



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