Written By: Adam Dince
Yesterday, I had an interesting user-experience design meeting with a group of really smart digital folk. One of my recommendations was to include Google’s +1 and Facebook’s “like” buttons on a client’s newly designed page templates. To me, this was a no-brainer—why wouldn’t we include them? I explained how important social signals are to search engine ranking algorithms and building the social equity of content.
Everyone in the room agreed with me… that is, everyone except one of our brilliant analytics guys who mentioned that both Facebook and Google drop third-party cookies on to a user’s computer when someone uses the “Like” or “+1” buttons. He then pointed out that our client has a strict policy against third-party cookies being transmitted via their site.
With privacy being such a hot button issue, it may be a matter of time until legislation makes it much more difficult for marketers to use third-party cookies. In Europe, Dutch politicians have taken a serious step in that direction.
The nightmare scenario of an opt-in/opt-out patchwork in Europe seems to be coming to fruition. After the sensible approach from the British government as to how to implement the EU’s ridiculously vague directive, Dutch politicians have decided to throw its growing digital media sector under the “privacy” bus. Yes, Dutch legislators have gone all-in with the directive, implementing a hard opt-in option for all “non-essential” cookie tracking. In a country where many highly-questionable misdemeanours are tolerated by society, it would seem that anonymous third party cookie tracking is seen as too much of a moral affront to privacy-sensitive politicians http://goo.gl/Ws3MG
Looming questions remain about what this all means for digital marketers, advertisers, and social networks. Some questions that have crossed my mind are:
- Are there other ways for social networks to leverage user-engagement without dropping third-party cookies?
- How will brands fare that do not allow third-party cookies to be dropped from their site?
- Will there be a point at which the major search engines will stop using social signals because laws become too restrictive?
- Are we focusing too much on social media?
Either way, the complexity of this issue is one of the many reasons I love digital advertising so much!
Would love to hear what you think.