So, two months on from the implementation of the cookie law and it seems like it never happened. Some web sites have adopted the opt-in model for cookies and most have taken the practical approach by displaying the opt-in message prominently but not insisting that users choose before using the site. The end of email that had been originally predicted also has not come to pass. In fact I would guess the Jubilee, the Olympics, and normal summer holidays has had more of an impact on email volumes than the implementation of the open tracking provisions baked into the cookie law (sorry, couldn’t resist).
The Olympics has gotten me thinking however, that this was a good practice run for the bigger challenge that is before us – the revision to the EU Data Protection Directive. It is still early days and the exact wording is yet to be settled but rest assured there are likely to be major changes that will affect direct marketing in general and email in particular. More information on the current state of this legislation can be found on the DMA web site.
So, this is a good time to reflect on how we handled the cookie law as a trade body and as an industry. First, let’s look at some feedback I have received from email marketers both in the UK and around the globe but with an interest in the UK market.
“Why did it take so long to get the discussion started? It’s not like you didn’t know this was coming.”
This is a very valid point. We should have been further out ahead of this issue and started the debate during the back half of last year. In our defence I would say that nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. More importantly there is a natural cycle to these things and not all of the stakeholders were in a position to participate in the discussion much earlier. The learning for me is that this level of stakeholder discussion needs to occur regularly, not just around key issues.
The other learning for me is that we need to continue to work well together as an industry. The email industry has always been populated by a dedicated group of professionals who can park egos, personal and corporate rivalries, and commercial interests for the betterment of the industry as a whole. This originates from an us against the world mentality that has existed since the dawn of email marketing and was the genesis of the eMail Marketing Association which later became the Email Marketing Council. This non-partisan cooperation continues today because it makes sense and at the end of the day makes us all more money.
The process of getting to the revised Data Protection Directive and then ultimately to how this is implemented in UK law will be long and will throw up literally hundreds of complex issues that will affect both email marketing as well as the rest of the DM industry. The resolution to many will put different parts of the DM industry at odds with each other, but by getting out ahead of the issues and continuing our history of non-partisan cooperation will ensure that the email industry’s views are heard and frame the discussion going forward.