ICO Cookie Monster Strikes Tomorrow

Friday, May 25th, 2012

May 25, 2012

On May 26, 2011, a new web privacy law came into effect in the United Kingdom (UK). The UK was first of the 27 European Union (EU) states to bring their laws in line with the directive intended to protect the privacy of individuals within the EU. With an understanding that there is work to be done and technical issues to resolve, the UK Government extended a one-year grace period for web sites to comply with the new regulations.

Well, the time as come! Effective tomorrow, the grace period is over and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) will be authorized to impose fines of up to £500,000 — heavy!. In theory, all web sites that serve UK visitors would be subject to this legislation. In reality however, it will be very hard to pursue a case against companies with no legal presence in the EU.

While a few organizations may be looking to leverage web server locations as a scapegoat, it is the location of the legal entities that the enforcement agencies will be focused on– the web host locations won’t matter. There are many types of cookies and forms of consent, so the rules can get pretty complicated. So before you decide to cuddle with the cookie monster, consider that he can complicate your life and confine your business. For example, the legislation does not require consent for cookies to be used in situations defined as ‘strictly necessary’ — but what does that mean? As currently clarified, if a user has placed an order online, then it’s implied by the user’s initial request that permission be granted without further consent to interfere with the transaction. This is just one example of an exemption to the consent requirement, and there are likely to be many more as the battle continues. Very few precedents have been set, so it will be interesting to watch the progression in Europe — and to compare and contrast with the ‘Do Not Track’ agendas in the United States.

To further complicate the legislative implications, take a peek at the definition of “Consent” as noted in the Open letter on the UK implementation of Article 5(3) of the e-Privacy Directive on cookies: “Consent” is defined in the Data Protection Directive as “any freely given specific and informed indication of his wishes.” Note that there are no time constraints associated with this definition, and no specification that the consent must be “prior consent”. Therefore, it is possible that consent may be given after or during processing.

While a few of us may start to feel better about our online privacy, and I’d expect virtually none from the online marketing communities, this legislation has negative implications. The efforts required to acquire informed consent on the use of cookies are likely to be costly for web site owners and businesses. Non-compliant web site owners will have an advantage as well, because their users will not be faced with questions that interfere with their browsing and buying activities.

Is the EU agenda overkill? Why can’t we just rely on innovative solutions that work with our browsers, like Ghostery for instance, to give us better insight and control?

To learn more about online behavioral advertising using cookies, take a look at the video below from Christina Tsuei at The Wall Street Journal. This was created back in 2010, but still very relevant and helpful for understanding how cookies work.

End the debate. Snail mail is here to stay.

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Marketers are now realizing that abandoning direct mail for digital media may have negative consequences for return on investment (ROI), and the impact may be worse than expected. When budgets are tight, it’s harder to see the forest from the trees, and it’s easier to make cuts with less regard for lifetime value (LTV). Fortunately, information spreads fast nowadays so we get to hear pretty quickly what others have learned from their mistakes. Conversely, there are a few mailers that kept quiet about their success with direct mail in 2009 due to the positive implications of fewer competitors’ offers in the box. (more…)

5 tweets from the tower of ‘babble’

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Has Twitter become the tower of 'babble'? Here are five 'tweets' that might help you decide:

  1. redclaymedia:  how to spam Facebook like a pro: an insider’s confession
  2. marlooz:  how does a spoiled rich girl change a lightbulb? She says, "daddy, I want a new apartment."
  3. erinragan:  apparently it's a bad idea to discuss your dog(s) on Twitter. Spammers come out of the woodwork!
  4. austin03112007:  ouch! i just bit my freaking cheek!
  5. wfullertonI just ate a 32 ounce steak. I thought u all should know that.

Maybe Ozzy can help clarify a few of these now that he's gone mobile with Samsung. Enjoy!

What can direct marketers learn from this? I'm not exactly sure, but I am certainly feeling much better about the integrity of direct marketing and mailing lists nowadays.

Facebook privacy? You can run, but you can’t hide

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Online tag

Tag – you're it! That's the game we used to play as kids, but it was conducted offline and had a 'two-way street' where the predator would instantly become the prey at each touch point. That's not the case with online tag – you can run, but you can't hide!

With online tag there are no list owner clearance approvals, just millions of individuals (with user IDs and passwords) who check boxes without ever having read the terms and conditions or a privacy policy. It's not just tagging you need to worry about. Just about anything can get posted, blogged or tweeted nowadays – and RSS feeds only help to power the distribution.

It's no wonder that, "I always feel that somebody's watchin' me, and I have no privacy." – Rockwell (1984)

Facebook privacy settings

Although there are several settings that Facebook users can adjust to manage privacy, they won't protect you from your misspent youth. According to All Facebook, "the best way to prevent embarrassing items from showing up on Facebook is to not make bad judgments in your personal life."

Well, I couldn't agree more – do you have a big eraser I can use to clean up my teen years? In the meantime, here are 10 privacy settings every Facebook user should know:

  1. Use Your Friend Lists
  2. Remove Yourself From Facebook Search Results
  3. Remove Yourself From Google
  4. Avoid the Infamous Photo/Video Tag Mistake
  5. Protect Your Albums
  6. Prevent Stories From Showing Up in Your Friends’ News Feeds
  7. Protect Against Published Application Stories
  8. Make Your Contact Information Private
  9. Avoid Embarrassing Wall Posts
  10. Keep Your Friendships Private

Keep in mind, that although Facebook is currently the most popular social network service it is not the only online social utility. There are hundreds of frequently visited sites on the web that allow your friends and your enemies to share information about you, both visually and textually, but not necessarily in context.

Respect from direct mail service providers

Fortunately, direct mail is less concerning because there are many controls in place to guard against the improper use of mailing lists. Direct marketing services providers work together and share information about unethical mailers to prevent scams on the front-end of the process. There are clearance approvals and list rental agreements that are required, and most lists are seeded to ensure compliance. In addition to these and other controls, the members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) abide by a Privacy Promise and a Code of Ethics.

The DMA has also made it easier for consumers to manage their incoming mail and email preferences by registering for the mail preference service at ''. The site also includes links to the forms needed to stop mail from being sent to deceased individuals or to manage mail sent to a dependent living in your care.

Media channels are good

It's not that direct mail is good and social media is evil. Media channels are not the source of the problem — it's human nature out of control that will lead to chaos. Treat others online the way you would like to be treated and we'll all be better off.

Encouraging Employees to Serve the Upper Valley

Friday, July 31st, 2009

CRC Service Day - 2932 A new NextMark / marketing INFORMATION network (mIn) employee benefit was added this year, providing paid time off (PTO) for community service. This benefit encourages employees to take time away from the 'busyness of business', get away from the office, and do some community service work.

One local Christian organization, Christ Redeemer Church facilitated a Service Project Day on July 15, 2009. One NextMark employee (me) decided to participate. It was tough work painting a pool house in the sun, but I enjoyed every minute of it — especially the people I got to work with that afternoon.

Over 180 volunteers were sent out to 23 different locations, serving various organizations and individuals throughout the Upper Valley. CRC Service Day - 2936

"Collectively we logged over 700 volunteer hours. This is by far the largest number ever! It was awesome to see how many volunteers rallied for this monumental effort," said Don Willeman, Pastor of Christ Redeemer Church (CRC).

"One of the highlights was the incredible accomplishment of our crew at Storrs Pond. We took on the repainting of the pool area bathhouse—a task the Storrs Pond staff was skeptical we could complete. Matthew Marshall, the General Manager of the Hanover Improvement Society, was stunned not only with the quality of the work, but also with the fact that we were able to get it done in just one day. Many worked late into the evening, in order to complete the work."

Here are a few other organizations that benefited from 2009 Service Project Day:


  • Hanover Police Department
  • Hanover High School
  • Richard W. Black Community Center in Hanover
  • Upper Valley Hostel in Hanover
  • Howe Library in Hanover
  • David’s House in Lebanon
  • Upper Valley Land Trust in Hanover
  • Hanover Water Works
  • Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich
  • The Family Place in Norwich
  • The Haven in White River Junction
  • The Re-Cover Store in White River Junction
  • Upper Valley Senior Center in Lebanon
  • Lebanon Recreation Department
  • Seminary Hill School in Lebanon
  • Hannah’s House in Lebanon

CRC Service Day - 2995 It was encouraging to see how much was accomplished in a single day! I was impressed by how many of our youth were engaged in different service activities. It was a very hot day and I did not hear a single complaint from any of them.


The new PTO for Community Service benefit is available to all NextMark and mIn employees located in New Hampshire, New York, and Oklahoma.

Join NextMark on LinkedIn

Monday, May 11th, 2009


Are you trying to figure out how to leverage social networking for the list industry? Well you're not alone. The NextMark Group on LinkedIn is open to list industry veterans, list brokers, list managers, and their clients to discuss the future of direct marketing as it relates to mailing lists, digital marketing, insert media, search engine optimiation, social media, and more. The group currently has 224 active members from more than 40 million around the world. We hope you'll join!


Recycling Hardware the NextMark Way

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today encouraged marketers to join its "Recycle Please" campaign and take its "Green 15" pledge in honor of Earth Day 2009. As a DMA Member, NextMark responded with a slightly different effort. Our engineering and operations teams took advantage of an opportunity to clean house on a warm Spring day, and filled the bed of a Toyota Tundra with yesterday's infrastructure.

Systems Plus Computers, Inc., a local supplier, was the beneficiary of multiple machines and monitors, large and small, of various types. Their computer hardware recycling program made it easy for us to contribute to a better environment. It is encouraging to know that some components may be put to future use, and that the remaining frames will not end up as landfill supporting the next new housing development in South Jersey. It is important for all of us to remember that the computers we use pose hazards when we discard them, so please reach out to your local computer hardware suppliers to see what recycling programs they offer.

NextMark has a right way to dispose of your unwanted hardware, but this clearly is not it.

Although the NextMark organization is virtually paperless, we are happy to 'go green' this April 22, 2009 Earth Day and to prevent unecessary waste. Hope you enjoyed the video. Visit the findlists channel on YouTube to see our videos about mailing lists.

Find NextMark on Facebook

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009



Did you know that as of this month (April 2009) there are over 200 million active users on Facebook? That's double the number of users the company had just eight months ago. That's impressive considering that Mark Zuckerberg and three of his buddies launched the application from their Harvard dorm room in February 2004. Within a year there were a million users and it took off even more rapidly from there.

After reading Facebook Marketing: Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business, I decided to create a page for NextMark.Reach Your Market Logo Although this network is more appropriate for consumer marketing than business-to-business, it is still a good place to be. Most of our blog traffic comes from LinkedIn and other networks, but the Facebook page is a great way of keeping others informed about what is going on here at NextMark. We have some nice pictures of our data center posted on our company page, an active poll about Barack Obama's use of Twitter, live updates from our blog, cutting edge videos from our YouTube channel, and more. Direct marketers are facing some real challenges right now, but many of those who have embraced social network services appear to be more optimistic. Only time will tell how well these outlets deliver in terms of paid advertising ROI but the effort to create a page on Facebook is minimal and time well spent for your business.

About 4 million users become fans of Facebook pages each day. We'd love to have you as a NextMark fan. You are also invited to join the NextMark groups on Facebook or Linkedin and keep up on what's happening with next generation marketing. We hope to see you there!

Unbelievable! 47 years old, unemployed, never been kissed — instant star!

Friday, April 17th, 2009

I’ve been contemplating the question: Is Twitter just for Twits? The jury’s still out on whether it’s useful in business, but now I can see how it adds value to society.

Case in point: “Susan Boyle” was the #1 trending topic last night on Twitter. Never heard of Susan Boyle, so I clicked through to find out what all the chatter was about. Then I discovered a true gem on YouTube “Susan Boyle – Singer – Britains Got Talent 2009”.


Follow the link to view:

If Susan Boyle does not stir your emotions, you are not human.

Back to the subject… This video has only been on the air for less than 1 week (Since April 11th). It already has 19 million views. That’s a far faster rise than the YouTube phenom Chocolate Rainmaker. The votes and comments roll in every second.

I don’t believe this attention and stratospheric rise would have been possible without Twitter. Obviously, Britain’s Got Talent and YouTube, too.

As they say, Twitter tells you what is going on right now. The “right now” is the key part of their value. Otherwise, Twitter is a waste of time 😉

Is Barack Obama Following NextMark on Twitter?

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Yes, it's true. Our Commander and Chief, Barack Obama was following NextMark on Twitter. I'm not surprised since the President embraced next generation marketing during his campaign and continues to do so in office. Obama Following NextMark Before getting too excited about this, I should note that NextMark is also following him back. NextMark is also just one of over 700,000 being followed by the President.

Is it really him? It might be since there hasn't been much activity since the inaugaration and we all know how busy he has been with the economy since he stepped into office. His last post was on January 19th encouraging followers to volunteer locally in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This post was superceded by a tweet to follow the inaugaral events, which was the last post since the election. Barack Obama is a hands-on President who does not hesitate to roll up his sleeves and go to work. I think it's really him – do you?