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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.

List Industry White Paper

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

While mailing lists are the lifeblood of direct mail marketing campaigns, the data acquisition process is outmoded. Therefore, NextMark commissioned research to better understand the core issues related to list acquisition and list fulfillment. The Evolution of List Fulfillment is the first whitepaper of its kind, leveraging the combined experience of seasoned direct marketing professionals (list brokerage and management executives), with technological expertise (NextMark) and qualified third-party editorial (Ray Schultz).

Click here to download your free copy of this list industry white paper.

Special thanks to all who contributed to this research product including:

Ray Schultz, President, TellAllMarketing

Lenny Medico, Senior Vice President of List Management, Lake Group Media

Ben Perez, former CEO of Millard Group

Fran Green, President of SMART Data Solutions, ALC

Pete Carney, CEO, Carney Direct Marketing

Geoff Batrouney, Executive Vice President, Estee Marketing Group

David Schwartz, President, Executive Confidential Organizational Consultants

Mary Jo Yafchak, Vice President of Product Management, Acxiom

Don Hinman, Senior Vice President, Epsilon Targeting

Mark Zilling, Senior Vice President, MeritDirect

Charles Morgan, former CEO, Demographics, Inc.

Tom Berger, CEO, Cross Country Computer

Mitch Rubin, CEO, Applied Information Group

David Kanter, President, AccuList USA

Eric Smith, CEO, ListFusion/DataTree

John Papalia, CEO, Statlistics

Carolyn Woodruff, Senior Broker

James Johnson, Advisor, International Direct Response

Lon Mandel, CEO, Specialists Marketing Services

Robert Sher, Principal, RK Sher & Associates

Marlies Duke, Vice President, 4Cite Marketing, LLC

When is failure not an option?

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Well for one thing when you have astronauts in a rocket ship out in space, lives are at stake and failure truly is not an option.

But perhaps a little closer to home failure of your order processing system is something that just can't be allowed.  The question is, "How do you avoid failure?"  The answer of course is to buy redundant everything and monitor your systems 24x7x366, and backup everything and I mean everything … twice…

But that would be cost prohibitive right?  You couldn't cost justify the computer hardware & software let alone the staff required to achieve such a lofty goal.   You just can't afford it right? 

Well, as a user of the NextMark platform that is exactly what you pay for and that is exactly what you get.

You are probably saying to yourself, "But there is no way even NextMark could possibly keep things like computer hard drives from failing.  Things just fail, it's inevitable. "

Well you are half right.  Yes things fail, but that doesn't mean you ever have to worry about it.  In fact this past Tuesday a hard drive in one of the NextMark servers did just that, it failed.  Now it didn't fail completely, it actually had a single error that triggered an alert to the data center operations team.  The drive was reset and started working again right away.  That was enough however to warrant it's dismissal.  A call was placed immediately to HP who shipped out a replacement which was installed the very next day.

So when is failure not an option?  When it's your mission critical business data and the lifeblood of your organization.  NextMark is here to help ensure that failure is not option for you.

The Benefits of the Direct Marketing Operating System

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

In a previous post, I illustrated the need for a direct marketing operating system ("DMOS"). In this post, I'll further explain the benefits of a direct marketing operating system and how the use of NextMark's DMOS facilitates the federation of direct marketing services.

The benefits of electronic commerce can be achieved without using DMOS. Marketing service consumers ("buyers") can interact directly with marketing service providers. However, the problem with this scenario is the number of connections required between buyers and providers which forces the constant "reinvention of the wheel" by both the buyers and providers.

Buyers and providers conducting electronic commerce directly with each other

As shown in the diagram above, each buyer has to establish a separate connection with each marketing service provider. Likewise, each provider has to establish a connection with each buyer. For example, in the case of 1,000 buyers and 100 providers, 100,000 separate connections would have to be established!

These connections are not trivial. Connecting to a web service is not much work. However, establishing a business class connection that is secure and reliable is quite significant.

The alternative to the cobbled together "point to point" approach mentioned above is the use of DMOS to facilitate communications between the buyers and providers.

Electronic commerce with the Direct Marketing Operating System

Buyers need only one connection with DMOS to access all services available through DMOS. Likewise, marketing service providers need only one connection to DMOS to enable all DMOS buyers to utilize their service.

In essence, DMOS makes it easy for buyers and suppliers to conduct business.

But DMOS is much more than a matchmaking service. It provides the infrastructure that makes it possible to conduct secure and reliable business electronically.

Direct Marketing Operating System (DMOS) services

The responsibilities of DMOS include:

  • Directory– provides a registry of services available through DMOS
  • Authentication – validates the identity of parties involved with a transaction protecting against impersonation
  • Authorization – restricts access to services to protect against unauthorized access
  • Confidentiality – ensures that requests and data are delivered confidentially through encryption to protect against eavesdropping
  • Orchestration – coordinates the workflow of many tasks in a business process to avoid omissions and errors
  • Message Delivery – guarantees the delivery of messages and data are delivered to ensure that no critical information is lost in transmission
  • Transformation – transforms requests or data into the format required by the marketing service provider performing the task
  • Monitoring – monitors the availability and performance of services to ensure high availability
  • Integrity – ensures that requests or data is not tampered with in transmission
  • Non-repudiation – provides assurance that an agreement or service request cannot later be denied by the parties involved
  • Auditing – keeps a log of service activity to provide insight and accountability of the service
  • And more…

Without DMOS, you would have to implement all of these services yourself or be exposed to significant security and service risks. This implementation requires a monumental amount of work. The implementation is so big that it often makes projects like this not feasible. This is probably why we've not seen much electronic commerce in the field of direct marketing.

With NextMark DMOS, you get all of these services by simply connecting to DMOS. So, you can focus on your business. Service providers focus on service delivery. Buyers focus on their marketing campaigns (and not technology).

Federation of Direct Marketing Services

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

As discussed in "Needed: Direct Marketing Operating System", the direct marketing channel is currently lacking an systems infrastructure. We're striving for a solution with the DMOS platform. When it's available, DMOS will make it easy for direct marketers to purchase direct marketing services from a variety of vendors. It will also be easy for direct marketing service providers to provide their services through DMOS.

Some examples of direct marketing services are mailing lists, merge/purge, data modelingCASS address standardization, printing, and email delivery. Examples of direct marketing service providers are list brokers, list managers, service bureaus, and printers.

Direct marketing service providers will be able to publish the availability of their services through the DMOS directory – a structured and searchable directory organized by service categories. Think of this as a turbo-charged version of the yellow pages specifically tuned for the direct marketing channel.

What is the relationship between DMOS and the service providers? I believe that "federation" is a term that aptly describes the relationship. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a federation is

"a system of government in which several states form a unity but remain independent in internal affairs"

Although not typically used in describing relationships between businesses, I believe the concept of federation is appropriate here.

The DMOS platform will unify direct marketing services. It will enable buyers to find and procure direct marketing services. It will enable vendors to deliver their services through a common platform. DMOS will provide some "governance" to ensure that the marketplace runs smoothly. Some examples are user authentication, security, directory services, service monitoring, integrity, confidentiality, etc.

However, each marketing service provider will "remain independent in internal affairs." They will be completely responsible for the delivery of their services. DMOS will help buyers to find and request a vendor's services, but the vendor will be responsible to negotiate and fulfill the buyer's needs.

This federation relationship reminds me of a shopping mall. The mall owner is responsible for the security and infrastructure. On behalf of the buyers, the mall owner will ensure a safe and easy place to conduct business. Each seller is responsible for running their own store.

From a business perspective, the concept of forming federations has been around since the first bazaar was established centuries ago. Electronic marketplaces are relatively new, but recent advances in computer technology have made them feasible for even small businesses. Other more complicated industries, such as manufacturing and travel, have implemented federated marketplaces.

I believe that an electronic marketplace for direct marketing is feasible because of the highly electronic nature of the business. Unlike most other industries, almost every aspect of the direct marketing process can be performed electronically. All that's needed is some "glue" to combine and orchestrate all of these electronic processes.

It's about time direct marketing had a federated marketplace. Don't you agree?