For most people, the notion that they are in some way being tracked while they use the internet is no longer surprising. The subtlety of how it's done keeps us from experiencing that creepy feeling of being watched, the feeling we get when being followed around by a salesperson in a store—which, by the way, is the type of thing that can kill a shopper's enthusiasm faster than anything else. Yet, as we click about our day seeing ad after ad that suspiciously corresponds to our interests and desires, we remain glib, or, with whatever awareness of marketing surveillance around us that's intact, make jokes about "big brother" that are more indicative of our weary numbness toward it all than any real alarm. In other words, we know we're being tracked, and seem to prefer to remain in the dark about how exactly it's done because knowing more might compel us to change how we use the web, perhaps even, how we feel about it.
While willful ignorance of tracking technology might be tenable for the average web user, those of us working in the digital marketing space are going to need to familiarize ourselves much more with how it all works, even if we have to figuratively hold our noses while doing so. If we're not asking questions about the technologies, what's possible and what's ethical, our clients certainly will be. And without ready answers, we could stand to lose the confidence upon which we build our most valuable relationships.
This month, I want to bring you up to speed on how tracking works, differentiate between limited and unlimited tracking, and explore how limited tracking can actually benefit users and marketers alike.