The question on privacy is now not about what the law will require (we know what legislators want), it is what technical fixes can be made to comply.
New rules to prevent the digital industry from tracking user behaviour on the web without their explicit consent are pending both in the US and Europe and, as yet, we see little activity by advertisers to make ready.
In May, UK companies were given a year to introduce necessary technical fixes so that clear, informed opt-in was secured from any user they wanted to track in order to, for example, target ads at them based on previous online behaviour.
In the US, the industry is hoping that self-regulation measures including ‘do not track’ technology in behaviourally-targeted ads - enabling users to opt-out of such tracking - will appease lawmakers.
There are some grey areas around precisely what is required but in Europe at least these are being cleared up at a rapid pace and across both continents there is absolutely no question that advertisers need to adjust.
The question is now not about what the law will require (we know what legislators want), it is what technical fixes can be made to comply and here we have to look again at cookies and the tags that drop them.
When a user makes any kind of decision about how – or indeed if - they want to be tracked online, that decision needs to be recorded and applied to all the technologies using that information to do its job.
That entire process will occur through cookies and tags but, as long as those tags remain ‘unmanaged’, will have to occur one technology at a time.
The tags on an advertiser’s website are the connectors between that site and the technologies its owner uses to plan, implement and operate online marketing campaigns.
Taken together they can be the layer that sits between web site and marketing providers and from where everything they do can be managed, including privacy – but, only if they are taken together.
There are many reasons to use a tag management system and we have always been keenest on their ability to level the playing field in terms of understanding the online channels that really drive sales and freeing marketers to easily switch between providers.
But new privacy legislation is prompting us to think that using one now is almost mandatory.