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Full data control vs. third party cookies

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Don’t you want full control of your data and a visitor that fully trusts you and your website?

But, I can hear you think, don’t I already have that? Well, I’d like to take you back to the 28th of May 2018. A day we shall look back upon as a special and important date in the internet era.

It was on this day that the European GDPR law was enacted, marking the end of the internet’s cowboy age. No longer were companies allowed to gather, share and reuse data without consent.

Even though the enforcement of this law still isn’t properly organized yet and, by the letter of the law, over half of all sites still break it (source: https://www.vpnmentor.com/blog/report-only-34-percent-of-websites-in-the-eu-are-ready-for-gdpr), there is a noticeable shift with how both consumers and companies deal with this new era.

Consumers

Consumers have become more aware of the data they’re sharing, what to watch out for and will no longer click ‘agree’ without thinking twice. This shift in awareness has been noticeable since 2018 and we fully expect it to only increase in the future. And despite GDPR being a European law, sites outside of Europe also have to deal with the consequences since they too, need to correctly implement the necessary precautions for European visitors. At the same time, consumers have been given the ‘right of access’ (article 15 of the GDPR) and ‘right to be forgotten’ (article 17). Meaning consumers now have the right to demand a company to divulge what information they have about the user (right of access) as well as the right to demand a company to delete all information pertaining to the user (right to be forgotten). Source: https://www.dataprotection.ie/en/individuals/know-your-rights/right-access-information

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Companies

Companies with a website (probably all companies) have also become more conscious about their responsibility for a consumer’s data (partly due to the, potentially, enormous fines GDPR stipulates) causing them to become more aware of what data they are explicitly and implicitly collect. Explicitly this means companies are becoming more critical about which data fields they put on their forms (Do we really need age? Why?), what happens to the data after submitting the form (an e-mail that flows it way through the entire company is kind off difficult to combine with the right to be forgotten after all) and for how long the data needs to be stored.

Implicitly it means that sites will no longer place and load an infinite amount of javascripts, iframes, tracking pixels and who knows what else. After all, most companies have absolutely no idea what these scripts do and collect nor what happens to any data collected using these methods. But, your company is responsible for the data collected by these scripts. And when a consumer knocks on your doors asking you to explain what data you collected from them and why and that they wish for you to erase it, well… you’re going to be in a bit of a pickle when you can’t.

Treat other people’s data the way you wish others treat yours.

Browsers

Fortunately, browsers are doing their best to help consumers these days. Unfortunately, the most powerful browser, Google Chrome, is lagging behind in this respect but others such as Microsoft Edge, Safari and Firefox are working very hard on this. Chrome, of course, benefits immensely from collecting and sharing as much data as possible to earn money with ads. Things are slowly turning around (source: https://blog.chromium.org/2020/01/building-more-private-web-path-towards.html), but the question remains as to how much will really change (source: https://www.adexchanger.com/adexchanger-talks/google-ads-gm-jerry-dischler-on-a-cookieless-future-that-happens-when-it-happens/).

Luckily, the other browsers (Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox) are offering a helping hand. Safari with its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) is leading the charge. I won’t be covering the full details (check this link in case you are interested in them: https://digiday.com/marketing/wtf-apples-itp-2-3-update/), but what it comes down to is that the era of third party cookies is slowly but surely coming to an end!

What? Third party cookies?!

Third party cookies are cookies that aren’t being placed by the website itself. These cookies are placed by scripts in the externally loaded scripts and iframes. Go to any random website and you’ll find dozens or even hundreds of them. And they come from literally anywhere; Youtube, Vimeo, Visual Website Optimizer, Google Analytics, CrazyEgg, Screaming Frog, Criteo, DoubleClick and many, many more (including a whole bunch of ad networks). And trust me, as the creator of a website you will have no way of knowing what data they collect, how long it’s being stored or what they do with the data. It is something that is 100% completely out of your control, yet you are the one responsible for what happens to this data. If that doesn’t set off some alarms I don’t know what will.

The beauty of the GDPR is that it’s illegal to place even a single one of these cookies without explicit consent from your user. This means that nothing is allowed to be loaded before the user actively, and more importantly consciously, gives their permission. So, no giant green “I accept” button, but a pro consumer choice of actively disallowing third party cookies if the user so choses.

Google Analytics

Many European country ‘tolerate’ the loading of Google Analytics without prior permission, provided that it’s properly set up to collect only anonymized data. The reasons behind this are somewhat odd, but at the same time understandable. Without Google Analytics every marketer would be blind as a bat in regards to user behavior. We, web developers, have become somewhat lazy and have been pampered by Google Analytics. This caused us to outsource the gathering of visitor data using the cheapest possible way (free!). The end result of this is that we’ve become dependent on Google Analytics, since most companies have no idea how many people visit their site without Googles help. But, do we really want to be dependent on Google? Especially with the potential privacy issues this causes.

But wait a second… Do we really need these third party cookies?

No, of course we don't! As a company there are very few (if any at all) valid reasons to use them. And for a consumer there’s absolutely no reason what so ever. The only reasons are cheap or free functionality for your website (video playback, tracking of pages visited) or to earn money via advertisements (Google Ads, DoubleClick, Facebook pixels). As a company you need to ask yourself if this is more important than the trust the consumer has in you, your site and brand…

So… about that complete control and consumer trust…

It doesn’t have to be how it’s always been. We believe in ethical marketing and our goal is to facilitate this for the entire world. This way, control over your data goes back to you allowing the consumer to put their faith in you once again.

The age of ethical marketing has arrived!

Okay, but how?

With the help of the uMarketingSuite it’s possible to register your website visits in an ethical and privacy friendly manner, putting control over the data back where it belongs: with you and your users. Privacy wise, uMarketingSuite has three important advantages:

  1. All data is in your hands and stored in your own databases. Data will never be stored anywhere else. You control and manage all the data and not a single third party can make use of it. There will be no oil spills of data that spreads across dozens of different parties and systems.
  2. You have full control over the data. You can determine how long it’ll be stored, when it should be anonymized and when it should be removed in its entirety. The uMarketingSuite allows you to determine how long data will remain stored.
  3. It is up to you to determine how much control you give to your users. Want the Analytics cookie to be loaded directly? Configure it! Want a user to choose whether or not they get a personalized experience? Configure it! Have the user decide whether or not they can participate in A/B testing? Configure it! And if you want the user to easily and automatically review their data you can simply set it up! The uMarketingSuite offers the tools. It’s up to you how to use them.

Woah woah, hold on a second. Than why is this site still using Google Analytics?

Well spot! We still use Google Analytics on  www.umarketingsuite.com for two reasons:

  1. There is no denying it, it is a fantastic and very comprehensive tool. It offers extensive functionality, is freely available and is one of the standards gathering site data. So, why not use both? By using both, you have an alternative that allows you to drop Google Analytics at a moment’s notice. Like for example, when it becomes a paid tool. Or when the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement expires (http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=228677&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=9722731). Or if users no longer wish to accept Google Analytics.
  2. Secondly, we would like to compare the results of both tools. The first results are already showing that uMarketingSuite is able to measure more comprehensively and accurately compared to Analytics. The reasons for this is because Google Analytics is being blocked by a lot of ad blockers and the stricter settings of browsers like Edge, Safari and Firefox. But we’ll talk more about that soon!

So!

Start winning back you users trust today and put yourself back in the captain’s seat! You regain full control over your data and your users a privacy friendly website. Win-win right? ;)

Discover the uMarketingSuite today!

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