Welcome to Broker Roundtable, where each week we ask list brokers to give their opinions on issues that matter to the marketing community. This week’s question: What impact would potential do-not-track legislation have on data collection or direct marketing?
Our current panel includes Lori Collins of Focus USA; Matt Kaiser of Veradata; Jeff Kobil of LDS Group and Herb Torgersen of Directinnovations. Would you like to be considered to be a member of our roundtable? Contact Larry Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Lori Collins, corporate vice president, Focus USA
The direct marketing community has to stay ahead of the curve on self-regulation or we will continue to have regulations forced upon us by individuals not in our industry who may not have a full understanding of the benefits we provide to consumers. Having an inclusive opt out link on sites will have a negative impact on data collection efforts but you have to compare that to the effects of forced legislation. No one wants that.
Matt Kaiser, executive vice president, Veradata
We’ve had our eye on this for some time now. List availability, hotline data and general interest behavior will take a hit if this comes to pass. Co-op lists will be more important than ever and search engines will have an unprecedented advantage when it comes to data. Opt-in search, in my opinion, is on the horizon. For instance, if Google provides a “premium” search service to consumers who opt-in to allow their behavior to be tracked for marketing, the number of participants would be massive—literally overnight. I think this is something that our legislators must consider when making these types of laws. The unintended consequences are significant.
Jeff Kobil, Co-CEO, LDS Group Inc.
I’m not the expert on this but all that I have heard seems to indicate that we should not be expecting any immediate legislation in this area which means that cookie tracking will still be with us for a while. A lot of this may have to do with the browser technology that is available. The concept of do-not-track legislation along with increased online data protection is not necessarily a bad thing since the goal is to continue to build consumer trust on the web. However, the industry needs to respond with aggressive self regulation.
Herb Torgersen, president, DirectInnovations Inc.
Personally I do not think it will have as big an impact on direct marketers as one would be led to believe. Articles and discussions about do-not-track legislation will have a bigger impact on online media spending as opposed to traditional direct mail. Direct marketers, both traditional and those marketers new to the channel, will for the most part be targeting proven buyers and not relying on where a consumer has landed on the web. Let’s also remember that there are a host of web sites capturing detailed consumer information simply by asking questions and applying a well thought out opt-in process.