Do you mind being followed?
How many articles have you read recently regarding how your activities are being tracked online – whether it’s by government agencies, social media giants or big advertising networks? I’m guessing, lots.
How many times have you looked at a product on an online shop, or maybe researched your next holiday, only to find helpful reminders popping up on all sorts of other websites over the following days/weeks? It’s an inevitable fact of life for anyone who uses the internet (it’s called ‘remarketing’, by the way, and – depending on your product/service – it can be extremely powerful).
Whilst most of us share at least a slight feeling of unease at this loss of privacy, interestingly it seems to have become increasingly accepted by the majority of people; a price worth paying (for those of us with nothing to hide) for the convenience of the web and all the great free stuff it gives us.
And we all do it, to an extent. If you’ve got a website, the chances are you’ve got Google Analytics installed (and if you haven’t, you really should have) to help you keep track of visitors to your site and their behaviour so that you can refine and improve your offering. If you’re using social media, then you’ll know who’s following you and adapt your messaging accordingly.
So, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that you’re being followed, right now. In addition to analytics, we’ve also got a nifty piece of software installed on our site which matches IP addresses to a companies database and gives us a clearer idea of what sort of businesses are coming to our site, and what pages they’re looking at.
Why? Not because we want to invade your privacy, but because we want to tailor our content to make it as relevant as possible to the user and also (as we’re being completely frank here) to enable us to identify possible sales leads to follow up. And it really does work, which is why we’ve also been recommending it to many of our clients.
Governments have always monitored their citizens’ activity, in the cause of national security. Businesses have always tried to identify, understand and communicate with their markets, in order to sell their products and services. The methods may have changed, but are the objectives really that different?
If you want to keep up, it’s best to join in.