First, we need to understand the fundamental difference between Web Analytics and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Web AnalyticsWeb Analytics is about a “statistical population”, "segments", "margin of error", "outliers", etc. The goal is NOT and should NEVER be to identify unique people, but to look a trends and patterns of online behavior shared by different groups of visitors. Web analytics pertains to the realm of inbound and onsite marketing and customer-facing optimization: campaigns, web sites, social media, etc. Period.
We are not in the business of tracking users’ journey on the Interweb.
Behavioral targetingBehavioral targeting doesn’t necessarily look at unique users; it looks at pattern of similar user behavior to determine what worked and what didn’t. However, admittedly, there are more advanced solutions where specific individual behavior is analyzed and the persuasion scenario tailored accordingly.
This can be done without ever using any PII.
Customer Relationship ManagementCRM is about one-to-one customer relationship, keeping track of “touch points” for each individual person, regardless of the communication channel they use – phone, email, web, etc. At its core, the goal is to improve the relationship with prospects, clients & customers by optimizing processes around all communication channels, all touch points, at all time.
We are at the opposite end of the spectrum: Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as name, phone, email and even more are critical to CRM.
Privacy and PIPEDA for examples).
Offering a customized experience on Amazon because it recognizes you is CRM, not web analytics. Facebook happily using all the data you give it, reselling it or making whatever they want with it is CRM, not web analytics – risky business, but done with user consen – well… kind of. Services using Flash Cookies, be it ad networks, web analytics tools or web sites themselves storing data without user consent and rebuilding it even after the user consciously deleted it is illegal in my book… and it seems I’m not alone thinking that.
Certainly all good things. However, the WAA as an organization has about 1500 members, the whole web analytics engaged practitioners and consultants’ base represents about 5000 people worldwide. Let’s be realist… The WAA is a small fish compared to other, well established organizations such as the IAB, and honestly, pretty much insignificant when faced with structured privacy lobbying groups. It seems web analytics vendors are still more interesting in competing, purchasing and killing one another than joining a coalition and lobby for the future of the industry.
Other associations are already ahead, like the IAB Privacy self-regulation compliance icon which is being developed in collaboration with the Future of Privacy Forum. The WAA simply doesn’t have the resources and lobbying power. Considering Microsoft, Adobe and Yahoo are already members of the Future of Privacy Forum, I think the WAA should simply rally the IAB and the FPF.