As long as there is consent from the consumer it is ethical for digital marketing professionals to have access to cookiedata.
Individuals/consumers also have the option to deny the company to monitor their every move on the site, or the individual/consumer could open an ‘Incognito’ browser.
In my opinion, the individual/consumer will most likely benefit from granting the company access to monitoring cookie data. Allowing companies to understand your behavior will allow your search for products to be a lot easier. Your online experience would almost be customized and aligned with your interests, wants, and needs.
I agree that a company should be able to track and analyze consumer behavior to an extent. It is only ethical as long as the consumer knows that their clicks and searches will be monitored and analyzed.
It is not uncommon for us to see a window pops up after 20 seconds we have been on to a new site, saying something in the line of “cookies”, “permission”, “improved experience” with a check box or yes or no option beneath those texts. Have you ever read into those annoying pop-ups? Are they important anyway?
So, those windows represent the developer of the website’s interest in using your online footprints from your browser to track and “draw” a virtual image of yourself. They typically try to guess who you are by crawling your browse history, IP address, and other detailed information about you.
Why are asking for cookies any way?
The main reason for their effort in attempting to “guess” who you are is for online marketing reasons. In order to increase their rate of conversion and figure out its targeted audience, the website’s best approach is via this method. Have you ever seen banner ads that feature the items that were in your shopping cart? That is an example where online tacking is at work.
Is it ethical?
Generally, the optimized tactic is to request permission from your audiences, it could be very uncomfortable for online surfers to find out that they are being monitored. It is extremely important for the collector of this data to keep it secure and away from possible exportation from a third party, since this information is very sensitive and could be used for fraud and scams.
Throughout this semester we have discussed the topics of privacy and information security and how websites like Google Analytics can track data like how many page views a company receives or how many people have clicked through their website. In addition, we learned about Cookies, and how it examines data such as interests, demographics, location, etc. What this allows Cookies to do is essentially figure out your marketing interests based off the personal data they have about you and use pop-up ads, emails and other ways to attract your interest.
As interesting as Cookies may seem, admittedly it’s also kind of weird in the sense that you feel like you’re being followed from sit-to-site. That is essentially how Cookies works. However, what’s unsettling is the the personal information they have on you. It poses the question of whether or not the information they are requesting is ethical or unethical. I like to think that Cookies is ethical, but only just so. I also believe that when allowing a website to access your cookies, that you only do so on a private and secured wifi network. There are many cybercriminals and hackers in this day and age, and you’re more susceptible to an attack if you allow a website to access your Cookies while on a public wifi network. A fews ways to prevent this from happening is by simply not going on websites that have access to your Cookies while you’re on a public wifi network. Another tactic is by using an incognito window. An incognito window, or private browser, allows one to have privacy while browsing. The browser isolates you from the websites main session so that your data is safe and protected.
Recently, we have heard much about how our phones continue to spy on us. In fact, sometimes you will even think of something and the next day it will be advertised on your phone! It makes one question if anything they’re doing or saying is private. Seemingly, there is no escape without giving up your electronics.
Last semester I was sitting around with my friends. To see if our phones were listening, we jokingly spoke about wanting to go to Colorado to go skiing for 5-10 minutes. The next day, I woke up and had an advertisement for SIGHTSEEING IN COLORADO on my phone. Who would’ve thought an advertisement like that even existed? My other friend had flight advertisements on his phone.
Is this Ethical?
While it may be helpful that I can talk about needing something and the next day have may suggestions that appeal to my needs, this is not ethical. It is an invasion of privacy. Recently I watched a Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. It explained that data is being collected at all times. Your location, your searches, your background, the time you spend on each exact post. This data is used to manipulate consumers into staying on media and into following ads that are catered to appeal to them. In fact, your phone is probably catering political posts to your phone knowing your stance.
This is quite scary. One should have to release specific information, to have it be known. There shouldn’t just be a sentence in the terms of agreement that I need to accept to use sites. Personal data should not be stored every time I have a picture on my screen. Are we really safe inside our minds? I’m not so sure anymore.
My first thought like many was that it has to be unethical to take all of this personal information from people just for entering a site. These companies know a lot about us and that can be scary to our privacy. However, after understanding the process better I don’t find it as unethical. Learning about the marketing aspect and use of the information has opened my eyes more.
How cookies are used
It was also comforting to know what the companies use the information for. In general, your information is safe with companies online. They simply use the information to get a better idea of their demographic and how to better advertise their product. It also helps them to make target audiences made up of consumers with similar interests or attributes that the marketing team has learned from analytics. They don’t use the information for anything except better marketing strategies. I don’t believe this is unethical as long as the information is secure in their hands and not being used for anything else. I do believe some companies get closer to being unethical when they start to use people’s information to single out specific people. Usually these analytics are used to get a better idea of consumers and groups but there are companies that get very personalized in approaches.
I don’t believe the collection of everybody’s information is necessarily comforting but there isn’t malicious intent or technically any unethical behavior behind it. I understand that the taking of someone’s information can look bad, but if companies are doing everything right there is no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to.
Terms like “tracking” can paint a lot of negative images when it comes to things like user privacy. When they say “track,” they mean that they’re recording a users behavior within the application. Recording generally refers to sending a message to an analytics service when a user does something.
When something happens in an application, they record it. Most of the services show you a reverse chronological timeline of events denoting some sort of user behavior. They can see things like user “Tapped the signup button” three days ago or “Cancelled subscription” 20 minutes ago. These types of events on a timeline will show a very specific set of behaviors that you can use analyze and later change your app with such data in mind. For example, if user created five to do items in your planner app and then cancelled his account the next day, they can gather that something about the product didn’t meet user’s needs.
This is where tracking can become incredibly valuable: identifying pitfalls in the successful usage of an app. With this sort of information, you can do proactive things like contact a specific user to ask about their cancellation and attempt to keep them as a customer. They can also do things like identify trouble areas in an app and determine where to focus efforts.
Like anything, tracking is good in moderation. Better yet, tracking is good when the purpose behind that tracking is well-informed.
Data collection and tracking user behavior has been a hot topic for years, especially as technology has become more advanced. The concern of what data is collected and who has access to the culmination of user information are only two the major questions pondered by users.
A common way user data is gathered is through cookies. In 2011, cookies were brought to attention through a EU law that ultimately rippled a domino effect on the workings of cookies in every country. According to The Cookie Law Explained, the law was created to protect users information by letting them individually decide to accept or deny cookies.
As seen in the picture above, the first thing that popped up when I entered the site is the cookie agreement.
With that said, tracking behavior can be done for ethical reasons and in an ethical manner. In terms of my team’s social good campaign, if done correctly then collecting user data can be used for the consumers benefit.
Much like the cookie agreement that showed up in the image above, users have to be notified that their data will be collected on our site and any other site related to our cause. Furthermore, consumers should be able to see and confirm that our company is using a secure and reliable system to store their data. It is important that consumers feel confident when it comes to the safety of their information. Along with all of that, users should also be made aware of what their data is being used for.
Consumers may feel more inclined to allow platforms to collect their data if they know the purpose and intent behind collecting it.
For instance, for my team’s social good campaign, our users information can be used to better serve them and their small business needs. We can use demographic and location information to determine areas where clusters of small businesses were affected to better extend our resources to where they are needed the most. On that same note, that data can be used to connect each owner with other small business owners in the same business field, location, and etc. through the Samsung Small Community.
The device type analysis can give us an insight as to what suggestions of technical devices we should offer to each client for business use. It can also help better pin point the kind of tutorials our experts should create to better assist our consumer in best achieving their business goals.
Overall, gathering user data would allow us to better present our services to our users by influencing how we present it and the content we present.
Do these images look familiar? If so, you have previous experience with ‘cookie data’. As you can see, the consumer must allow or grant the company to have access to this data.
With that being said, as long as there is consent from the consumer it is ethical for digital marketing professionals to have access to this somewhat intrusive data. Keep in mind, individuals have the option to ‘reject’ or open an ‘Incognito’ browser.
Benefits aside; I am very open minded regarding the ethics surrounding a companies right to this information. I understand why some individuals would rather deny cookie access as malicious activity could occur. If that is the case; below I have provided a super user friendly guide that breaks down 7 ways to disable cookies!
In the online space, people understand that a certain amount of data will be collected. From a digital marketing perspective, it is best to collect as much data as possible. This is in order to better market to your audience. However, this is in conflict with internet users who value their digital privacy. In general, there is a certain amount of data that it is ethical to track, but collecting more data is unethical.
There are many different types of data that can be collected by Google Analytics. These include page views, time on site, and bounce rates. In my opinion, these are ethical types of data tracking. These provide a fair amount of information about how well the site performs with an audience. It also avoids collecting personal information. Most people would understand why this data is being collected and would not argue with its collection. This is ethical because the data is contained to the company website.
There are many other types of data that Google collects, such as demographics, location, and marketing interest. These are collected via cookies that follow consumers throughout their web browser. In my opinion, these types of data collection are unethical from a personal privacy standpoint. This is because the data is not limited to the company’s website, and instead follows users around their web searches. This infringes on consumer’s data privacy. While general information on demographics such as age and gender and location can be helpful information to market audiences for their campaigns it isn’t something people can opt-out of being collected. It is unethical to collect data from consumers without allowing the option to avoid this collection.
This information can be largely important to marketing campaigns. Targeting specific people works better when there is information on who follows your campaign. However, marketing benefits must be balanced with privacy. Collecting data on demographics and location is an invasion of privacy and therefore unethical.
As a constant user of all types social media, especially google, I think it is crazy that big brother is always watching(literally). After using the google analytics tool that is very accessible to users I was in disbelief that it was that easy to collect data. There were numerous statistics on some of the most important things such as age and gender. They also had some more in depth stats on things like mobile users, search terms, behavior and many more. As a user I think it is weird that all this information is so accessible. Many people don’t understand why people and companies track this data. At the end of the day, what the person or company does with the information they are provided with determines whether it was ethical or not.
Using the data Unethically
In the article below they state how companies have been using the data unethically. One of the largest concerns people have is when they are target marketed certain things based on their online activities. The article stated that 79% of people in Australia feel uncomfortable when that occurs. Another major concern for people that companies continue to do is that the store the user data. A total of 83% of people felt uncomfortable with these companies collecting and storing data. This shows that even though so many people have problems with these things, the companies continue to do them. There can be many benefits for the companies when they have this data, but is it worth their credibility?
Tracking and learning user behavior can be very important for companies to understand how to reach their audiences. Learning certain aspect can determine how they try to reach customers. As a business person this type of data is very exciting to me. I think this way because it shows that their is so much data that is already out in the web that can help you figure out how to make better choices for your company. Understanding how trends work especially when it revolves around your company is very important knowledge to be aware of. If the company is product based it is very important to know if they need to improve anything as well. There are endless ways to look at the data to try to reach the audience in the best way possible. It might not be the most ethical, but this type of data is very important when making business decisions.