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USA Today has an interesting piece about continuing concerns in some quarters about the ability of online marketers to track the internet habits of consumers.

“Tracking technology has advanced so much that everything from how long we linger over a product description to whether we are searching for sexual-dysfunction drugs can be collected and stored on individual profiles,” the paper writes. “Our profiles are numeric descriptions, not our real names, but in some cases, it's not hard to determine personal information behind the numbers. Privacy concerns abound, and several privacy and consumer groups are urging Congress to enact laws on what can and can't be collected and for how long.

“But the tracking continues in earnest, in few places more avidly than among retailers. With the approach of a holiday season that even the most hopeful of industry analysts think will see only a 1% sales increase, retailers are increasingly turning to the Web for answers — and sales.”

And here is the statistic that probably grabs a lot of e-tailers: “The e-commerce marketing company Coremetrics says consumers are 50% more likely to open and click through a targeted e-mail than a generic one. And targeted e-mails generate 50% more revenue than generic e mails, the company has found,” according to USA Today.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers support or even understand what is being done online. The story notes that a joint survey sponsored by the University of California - Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania suggested that close to 70 percent of those questioned said they opposed giving online marketers the ability to track their behavior, and “even more were opposed after they were told how the tracking was done.”
KC's View:
The FTC has created voluntary guidelines for how and what marketers can track online. E-tailers would be wise to either adhere to these regulations or even exceed them...because if they don’t, they could be faced with stringent and mandatory rules. Better to get there first and preempt the regulators and legislators.