7 Stages of “Do Not Track” Grief: A Survival Guide for Analysts & Online Marketers

griefThere is little over a month to go until Microsoft releases Windows 8 along with their newest embedded Internet Explorer 10 browser that will feature Do Not Track enabled by default. In recent days, Google has also unveiled new Chrome features for Do Not Track.

While many in the community are bracing with the implications, others believe the feature won’t have a significant impact on the industry’s ability to effectively optimize advertising dollars. What is a web analyst or online marketer to do?

Surviving the do not track evolution is much like dealing with the seven stages of grief.

1. Shock and Denial

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that Do Not Track legislation is coming whether we like it or not. Various legislative committees and governing bodies are interested in protecting the public’s privacy because fraud costs billions a year. While the majority of visitors reading this article are tech-savvy and can spot a phishing email a mile away, hundreds still fall for the Nigerian Prince who wants to give you a cut of his inheritance.

2. Pain and Guilt

We will all feel the pain of losing a percentage of data, which is a feeling not so foreign to the industry in recent months. Many were predicting the end of SEO with Google’s infamous encrypted search decision last year, but SEO is still alive and kicking. Do the most to protect your ability to collect anonymous user data by enabling first-party cookies for web analytics software (where available).

3. Anger and Bargaining

Anger is natural with any significant change in life, but don’t let it get the better of you. Don’t stoop to compromising visitor and customer privacy through shady tracking technologies, such as the now notorious “Flash cookies.” Turn the other cheek and provide an opt-out, the reputational karma alone will allow you to retain the respect of your customers.

4. Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness

Have you been totally honest with your website visitors and customers? If someone were to visit your site and analyze the source code and cookies you place in their browser, would they be shocked? Be sure to update your privacy policy and try to be completely transparent without sacrificing competitive advantage.

5. The Upward Turn

Let’s be honest, web analytics data was never perfect. Log files weren’t perfect and neither is JavaScript tracking software. Settle with imperfection.

6. Reconstruction and Working Through

Online marketing is at the very pinnacle of big data. We have so much data that we often don’t know what to do with it. Many of us have data at our disposal from offline sources that we never considered to mine. Problems introduced through Do Not Track will spawn a new age of creative thinking because the ones with the most to lose, such as ad networks, are in the same difficult spot.

7. Acceptance and Hope

In the end, we all have to realize that the online industry still has much better data than traditional marketing.

What are your thoughts on do not track? Are you ready for IE10 and do not track legislation?

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