Are we being stalked by some of our favourite brands?

I mentioned in a previous blog being chased around the internet by something we know as cookies. Though when I say we know, most of us only really  know that that’s what they’re called, exactly what they do and how we stop them is still a mystery. Cookies are a relatively old (in technology terms anyway) type of software to surface. They are essentially a small piece of information about your web usage. Cookies serve different purposes, mainly to enhance your user experience of a website, to navigate more easily through pages.

Cookies serve another purpose and it is this function that many of  us are still oblivious to. A cookie can be used by some websites to enable them to target you with their advertising or messages based purely on information such as your previous internet usage, or even your geographical location. It is for this reason you may have looked at the Nike website in your domain yesterday and as you pass through the internet today whether it be in social media or search engines you will see an advert or message from Nike, because it remembers you.

I think the BBC have it nailed  as to what a cookie  is, in a pretty easy to understand way:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/privacy/cookies/about/?source_url=/privacy/bbc-cookies-policy.shtml

Now people react very differently to this, most  uninformed people would think “My god, how did it know?” and others might simply find them annoying. What I want to explore is, is it too intrusive? Have we as marketers crossed a boundary? Or have we as the every day person been too naive?

Data protection is something we as a society have come to be very concerned about, though our practice of vigilance is laughable. It’s true that majority of us informed browsers would be aware to click out of a cookie or simply disable them but the worrying thing is that it never stops, when we become savvy to the ways around cookies something new comes along.

Have a read of this about the next generation of cookies to get the hairs on your neck raised:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamtanner/2013/06/17/the-web-cookie-is-dying-heres-the-creepier-technology-that-comes-next/

As a learning marketer I’m always torn between what I believe is right or wrong and simply what will get results. It’s undeniable what technology has done for this age of digital marketing. The awareness that is now generated, the relationship between brand and customer only seems to get closer and closer by the day. Can that be a bad thing? Giving customers what they want, even if they’re unaware of it. I can be caught in a previous blog I wrote about Social Media, singing praises for modern digital media, and to clarify the issue for me isn’t the existence of online advertising, it’s the extent to which marketers are taking it to. I read an article from the Wall Street Journal not too long  ago and I’d  have to agree with what they said, why should our privacy automatically be published and make it our prerogative to reverse it.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204792404577229613295011198

If we stop for a second and think of the effect that has on our youngest browsers, they are entering into a predatory environment. As I said much can be praised for the advancements we have made in modern advertisements, but just because something is possible does it mean we should do it?

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