Third-party Cookies vs. Consumer Privacy

In “The conclusion of Third-party Cookies Should Not Hurt Retailers,” we addressed how third party biscuits affect privacy and ecommerce. After reading that article, I reviewed privacy issues and what other firms do to aggregate customer data. I found some interesting tools that customers and companies should be conscious of. As consumers, we’ll likely see more chances to opt out of online activities that gather data about our behaviours. We might also see more tools that enable customers to provide more precise information.

The Drive to Personalize

Nearly every ecommerce merchant uses information to personalize shoppers’ experiences. Some Frequent personalization tactics are:

  • Target emails at selected customers who are more likely to get a specific product;
  • Retarget shoppers who have seen a shop but didn’t make a purchase;
  • Segment and customize merchandising offers on your online shop.
  • Present upsell and cross-sell offers.

Online merchants use first-party information from their own cookies and databases to monitor shopping behaviors. They also buy third-party databases which help predict behaviour and products that will appeal to a particular target shopper. Similar methods are used with offline direct marketing for ages. Online tools like third party cookies — i.e. cookies left by a domain apart from the one a user is seeing — and deep data mining have made the practice easier.

When used properly with advertising networks and ecommerce personalization and recommendation engines, third party databases increase conversion rates and average order values. They also increase customer loyalty by providing a better customer experience.

To ascertain what kinds of information are available and how you could pick the best data source for your company, consider the downloadable BlueKai Little Blue Book. It’s an outstanding source to find out about available data for marketing purposes. BlueKai and businesses like it evaluate your site traffic and make recommendations on databases which will probably help you grow your company. BlueKai’s partners include data suppliers like Axciom, Experian, Alliant, Datalogics, comScore, and many others.

The book includes advice on how those firms collect information and what they think they know about you. In actuality, they encourage the BlueKai Registry, which enables consumers to find out what action is being logged in their computers and other devices by third party data creators. The companies also offer a way to opt out of information collection.

Because I research so various kinds of sites, as a journalist, the majority of the information about me in BlueKai Registry was incorrect. By way of instance, I may pay a visit to a women’s clothing website to research an article, but I don’t have any interest in buying women’s clothing. However, my wife’s profiles are fairly accurate.

Following is a sampling of what anybody can find at BlueKai Registry. I discovered that the tab about”What others know about you” the most intriguing. In my case, there are over 20 distinct databases with information about me. You may opt out of some of them as you examine the BlueKai Registry.

The BlueKai Registry provides transparency about information collected about you by different data providers.

Data Collection

The majority of the information is now collected with third party cookies or other means that customers have opted into, even when they didn’t necessarily think of it like that. Each time you agree to a license agreement, as an example, it’s very likely that you’re agreeing to share your information in aggregate and anonymously with third parties. Most companies put that in their arrangements to protect themselves from the long run, no matter whether they collect the information today.

If third party biscuits are eventually eliminated, there’ll likely be some kind of replacement system which will offer similar functionality. In actuality, there is a scarier method of tracking customer behaviors — using electronic fingerprinting methods that profile your PC.

This technique is practically impossible to block as other apparatus can view things such as your operating system, browser type, your fonts, display size and thickness, time zone, cookie preferences, browser plugins, and http header info. The fantastic thing is that using fingerprinting is comparatively small. But, some observers think this will be a future alternative to third party cookies.

The site Panopticlick provides a browser test you can run to find out what your computer’s fingerprint looks like. It’ll tell you how unique your computer is and what the likelihood is that a third party could identify you individually. In my case, my browser fingerprint is unique among the 3 million analyzed up to now. On the other hand, someone using this technique would require more information to identify me separately. There’s a more in-depth Panopticlick article that gets to regression, data, and additional information.

Panopticlick browser testing results.

Tools for Consumers

Axciom, one of the larger data suppliers, is currently offering a tool at AboutTheData.com which enables customers to view information that Axciom has collected about them and really correct it whenever they choose. The good thing is that you need to offer Axciom with even more info than it has to see the information it has on file. However, you could also choose to opt out of its databases.

You’ll have to create a login and answer a set of questions to verify your identity. Once that’s finished, you can review your information, which can be broken up into several categories.

In my case, Axciom had mangled the vehicles that I have in its”Household Vehicle Data” category. I decided to fix the information to avoid a heavy dose of improper targeted messaging to me.

You could be surprised by the quantity of information Axciom maintains. Realize that this is only one of several databases that have information about you which can be used in offline and online applications.

As a marketing professional, I realize the power of information in ecommerce to personalize a shopper’s experience. As a customer, I’m wary of how much information businesses know about me. I’m less worried about what they know about me in general. In actuality, I’d prefer that companies present me with products and information I care about versus things I do not.