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Tim Peter

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April 2, 2014

Why Your Customers’ Privacy Matters to Your Marketing – Thinks Out Loud Episode 68

April 2, 2014 | By | No Comments

Why Your Customers’ Privacy Matters to Your Marketing Headlines and Show Notes

IStock 000008378947XSmall

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

If you’re looking for more e-commerce tips, check out my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results as well:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 52s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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February 1, 2013

Tim Peter

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October 18, 2011

Google removes marketers' access to valuable data, but, maybe, doesn't protect privacy. Have they lost their mind? (BREAKING)

October 18, 2011 | By | No Comments

Ugh. Google announced today that they’re going to make search data more secure by hiding search query and referrer data. Except for when they don’t.

Huh?

It seems Google is going to hide the query and the referrer on searches for anyone logged into Google. While this will only affect, according to Google’s Matt Cutts, “single-digit” numbers of searchers, anything that makes it harder for marketers and e-commerce types to segment their customers, well, sucks.

Now this wouldn’t be so bad if it applied to all logged-in customers for all types of searches. At least then Google could fully claim they’re protecting privacy. But, Google isn’t doing that. The data from paid clicks (i.e., the type Google makes money from), continues getting passed to your analytics tool. Not sure how that’s protecting privacy. Google’s got enough trouble with potential regulators right now. I’m not sure this approach helps them there.

And, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Google protecting users’ privacy. I have argued repeatedly that protecting privacy is in marketers’ long-term best interest. I’m just not sure this accomplishes much in that regard.

Google’s announcement came earlier today, so many details are still up in the air. But the best analysis so far comes from Danny Sullivan:

“Not only does the policy discriminate against the SEO side of the search marketing family, it also sends a terrible signal to consumers. It says that referrer data is important enough to protect — but not important enough when advertiser interests are at stake.

To be fair, Google is concerned that people are more likely to do sensitive searches that somehow reveal private information in referrer data through clicks on its free listings. But this could still happen in relation to ads, as well.

I appreciate that Google’s trying to get the balance right, something Cutts said to me repeatedly, as well as all this being a a first step that will likely evolve. I also appreciate what he said about even this already improving things: “What you’re getting today is better than what you were getting yesterday.”

But still, it would seem better if all referrers were blocked. As a marketer, I hate saying that. But as a consumer, it does provide more protection. And for Google, blocking them all doesn’t create this mixed message that might backfire on them with privacy advocates.”

Admittedly, his analysis and mine align pretty heavily. But stay tuned for more. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot about this in the coming days.


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September 29, 2011

Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live by Jeff Jarvis (Book Review of the Week-ish)

September 29, 2011 | By | No Comments


Many people who review Jeff Jarvis’ extraordinary new book, “Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live”,spend way too much time focused on Jarvis’ penis. Sure, the man blogs regularly, and quite publicly, about the effects wrought by his prostate cancer. But Jarvis has—sorry, Jeff, no offense intended—bigger things on his mind.

“Public Parts” looks at the meaning of privacy and “publicness,” secrecy and openness, opacity and transparency for individuals, businesses and governments in the age of Facebook and Foursquare, Twitter and Tumblr, search and social. Jarvis looks at each in detail with humor and grace—perhaps not unexpected for someone willing to live his life so publicly.

This isn’t a “business” book, at least not in the sense of the books I usually review. Unlike his earlier book, “What Would Google Do?”, (you can read my review here), there are fewer immediate takeaways. Jarvis has bigger things on his mind than just business (though I would note his section on “new media vs. old business models” should be required reading for anyone relying on the Internet as a marketing and distribution channel).

Jarvis asks important questions about the nature of our increasingly public lives. But more than that, he offers answers and insights. He pokes and he prods. Some positions he advocates will likely make you uncomfortable, perhaps in a way that only a man treated for prostate cancer could.

Good.

Because I guarantee ignoring these things will cause you a lot more discomfort in the long run. As I said, he’s got some big things on his mind.

Read the book. It’ll do you good. Just don’t be surprised when you end up with some pretty big things on your mind, too.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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Tim Peter

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August 8, 2011

What is Wrong with Online Marketing Anymore?

August 8, 2011 | By | No Comments

What the hell is wrong with online marketing these days? I don’t have a particular opinion of companies like KISSmetrics. I’ve never used their product. But, seriously. If a customer deletes his or her cookies, is it really a good idea to undelete them? The company now says that their privacy policy discloses what they do. Now there’s a lawsuit to boot.

Is it any wonder that practices such as these, or Facebook’s privacy missteps or Apple and Google’s geo-tracking issues cause consumers heartburn?

I’ve suggested for some time that businesses need to care for their customers’ privacy as if it were their own. As I’ve said,

“Customer relationships are built on trust. All relationships are. “

I’m a marketer. I make no bones about it. And I’m proud of what I do. I also respect the need of all marketers to use tags and tracking codes to figure out how best to help customers. I frequently help clients figure out how to use all sorts of technology to better understand their customers’ behaviors. But, we all need to continually ask ourselves if what we’re doing is truly in the best interest of our customers. And, if what you’re doing ever feels the slightest bit creepy or over the line, it isn’t worth doing at all. You may risk a minor point of conversion in the short-term, but your customers will appreciate you much more in the long-term.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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Tim Peter

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May 25, 2010

Can you protect your business from Facebook's privacy lapses?

May 25, 2010 | By | No Comments

You know who you won’t find on this year’s list of the world’s most reputable companies? C’mon, say it with me now: Facebook. In fact, one study suggests that 60% of its users are thinking about quitting. (I have some problems with the research methodology. But, still… yikes!)

Now, if 60% of your customers said they were thinking of firing you, you’d sit up and take notice. And Facebook has done just that. The company has announced it will launch simpler privacy settings, though not everyone’s convinced that will solve the problem. For instance, the incomparable Dwight Silverman concludes:

“The root problem isn’t that Facebook’s privacy controls are too hard to navigate. At the core of this dilemma is that users must dive into them all too often to protect themselves from unilateral actions taken by Facebook.”

Now here’s the point: Facebook’s missteps are creating opportunity for other, smaller competitors. Because, if there’s one thing Facebook has taught us, it’s that people like using the web to keep in touch with their friends and associates, sharing photos, funny stories, and wacky YouTube videos. Some even like to do it when they’re sober. With over 400 million members – making Facebook the 3rd most populous country in the world – social isn’t going away anytime soon.

Don’t get sucked into this mess. Yes, you should learn whether Twitter or Facebook works better for your business – to say nothing of LinkedIn, Foursquare, Gowalla, QQ, ASmallWorld, and on and on and on. And, yes, social media marketing is here to stay. But, if you’re going to market using these sites – and it’s likely you should – make sure you take care of your customers’ privacy, too. You shouldn’t rely on the social network. But your customers should be able to rely on you. And who knows? One of these days, you just might make that list of reputable companies yourself.



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Tim Peter

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February 17, 2010

How bad did Google Buzz screw their customers' privacy?

February 17, 2010 | By | No Comments

Have you seen Google’s Buzz? The folks at This Week In Google have. And, they mostly like what they see. I do too. Except for this one little thing… During the podcast, Jaiku founder Jyri Engeström says (about 13 minutes into the show),

One could argue, [this was] a brave choice from Google… as a brand to retain people’s trust… and I think that’s probably the single largest threat to Google that people would, on a large scale, lose their trust in Google… and I think this was one of those cases where a call had to be made…”

Seriously? It was a good idea for Google to say, “Privacy?!? We don’t need no stinkin’ privacy.”

Jyri’s right in that losing their customers’ trust is a huge threat to Google. And, given that, the right answer is never to say, “Eh. Let’s see what happens.” (A quick tip o’ the thinking cap to Jeff Jarvis, also of This Week in Google, for pointing that out, too).

Google could easily have sent an email, shown a banner or a content ad or all of the above to say, “Hey, here’s what we’re going to do in a week’s time: we’re going to immediately and automatically start sharing your Google Reader shared items, Picasa Web public albums and Google Chat status messages. ‘K? Oh, and here’s how you opt-out if you’re really freaked by that notion.”

Because, as they’ve demonstrated with Buzz, they know everything about how to reach you. And all your friends, too:

google-buzz-screws-privacy.png

OK. Cheap shots aside, couldn’t an argument be made for taking this more proactive approach? Well, Jyri steps up to that, too:

“…honestly, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for people to kind of be exposed to it, issues, this way and for us to be having this conversation right now because, um, y’know, it’s kind of necessary for us to shift, I believe, from this world of the silo-ed social networks into a world where the data can flow freely.”

That’s fair. Google wants as large an adoption curve as possible. The success of Twitter and Facebook – or, more tellingly, the failures of MySpace and Friendster – have shown us that. And it’s clear that many businesses benefit from robust social tools.

But, when you’re dealing with your customers’ information, you have to remember that it’s your customers’ information. Yes, Jyri, it’s a good thing to have this conversation with your customers. It’s a good thing, too, to take steps to open the dialogue. But it’s a real bad thing for Google’s long-term best interests if they don’t start to give a little more thought to their customers’ long-term best interests. Because, as I noted above, trust is just one of Google’s significant threats. Another – and they can ask their friends at Microsoft about this one – is government intervention.



Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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