CookieLaw Blog May 24, 2011

The Analytics Crunch

One part of the web economy that will potemtially be hit harder than most by the Cookie Crunch is web analytics.

Web analytics tools, of which Google Analytics is the most common, are used by almost every website to provide insight into the behaviour of visitors to the site.

Analytics tools help website owners answer all sorts of questions like:

  • What are the most popular pages on my site?
  • What pages don’t visitors appear to like?
  • What browsers are my visitors using?
  • What days or times bring the most visits?

Having these answers, and many more, is vital to the ability of owners to make sure their site is the best it can be, and has content that people find useful or valuable.

In other words, analytics provides basic market intelligence that every company needs to be able to continue to serve its customers.

The only way to collect this intelligence is to place a cookie on the visitor’s machine that enables the analytics program to follow them around the site.

This information is completely anonymous.  There is no way anyone can tell who those visitors are.  So there is no loss of privacy in gathering this information.

However, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the body responsible for enforcing the new cookie regulations in the UK, has clearly stated that this kind of tracking technology will require a visitor’s consent before it can be used.

And if enough people don’t give their consent, the end result will be a poorer web experience for those visitors.

Of course, as I write, the ICO website itself uses Google Analytics to track visitors.

We shall be watching what happens when Cookie Crunch Day arrives – and maybe an opportunity will arise to send them a message.

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