Over the past 10 years, the digital analytics space has changed dramatically from being a log-analysing task in IT, to a vital part of most company’s online presence, marketing and development of strategy.
As the digital analytics space has evolved, marketers have acquired more sophisticated tools in the toolbox and better data about their customers – their online behaviour, preferences etc… Integrations between online and offline data is not something companies only talk about anymore, they do it!
Parallel to this development, we have also seen that privacy becomes increasingly pertinent, and something companies need to take seriously and respect, in order to maintain their business. We have seen new regulations being implemented (EU cookie law and EU-US safe harbour etc.) and privacy is something we all talk about and we all have an opinion about it. Now we spend time changing privacy setting on Facebook, we use browsers in ‘Privacy mode’, blocks 3rd party cookies and have software installed that regularly clean up cookies and browser history and much more.
The Mozilla foundation who are behind one of the most popular browsers, Firefox, has been selected as the most trusted internet company by the Ponemon Institute, and they keep working on improving and ensuring privacy, when using their products.
Recently, they made an update to Firefox, meaning that when browsing in Privacy mode (Incognito), Firefox automatically blocks a range of tracking tools and systems, such as Adobe Marketing Cloud, Google Analytics, AdForm, Doubleclick, Clicktale, Facebook, Twitter and many more.
Users can also enable this feature when browsing in normal mode, but at the moment that is something they need to enable manually.
At the moment, only users with this feature enabled are blocked, everyone else is still measured. However, it is going to be quite interesting to see how this is going to develop going forward. You could expect to see other browser vendors such as Apple or Microsoft, to follow the Mozilla foundation on this, and incorporate similar features into their products. And you could also expect this feature, to be enabled default in those browsers, meaning that almost nobody would be tracked.
What about Chrome? According to W3School, Chrome was used by almost 66% of all internet users in September 2015.
Chrome is developed by Google, who are running a billion-dollar business with their AdWords and who also offer both a free and paid version on their own tracking tool, Google Analytics. I won’t expect to see them incorporate this feature into their own browser, at least not enabled by default. That would simply remove a significant amount of data from their other services (AdWords and Analytics), and properly cost them a significant amount of dollar in lost revenue.
However, if blocking tracking vendors becomes default in most other browsers, I’m sure Google have to do something.
Firefox has partnered up with Disconnect.me, to use their service directly in Firefox without additional installation of their plugin. It will be interesting to follow other vendors next move as well as how vendors are going to tackle this.
Browsers have had the ‘Do Not Track’ (DNT) feature enabled for a while, but this feature does not disable tracking, it just tells websites that this user/browser don’t wish to be tracked. It is up to the websites and vendors, to respect this as it isn’t part of the legislation.
The way tracking vendors are being blocked is by blocking their domain/host names, so the browser can’t communicate with for example omtrdc.net or 2o7.net (some of the Adobe servers).
However, Disconnect.me states that vendors who respect the DNT preferences, services where the user explicit has to opt in or tools for improving user experience, based on either error reporting, internal testing or user experiments (A/B testing etc.). See more about the Disconnect.me tracking protection here: https://disconnect.me/trackerprotection
As tracking and measurement are a billion-dollar business, we can expect vendors also act on this. Blocking tracking vendors isn’t something new. It has existed for many years as add-ons to various browsers, but now where it becomes a default part of the browser functionality, it will properly get more attentions from the various vendors.