By Robert Bruil
GDPR or The General Data Protection Regulation is going into effect today, May 25, 2018 just as everything seems to revolve around privacy in connection with the new European law. The data breach at Facebook (Cambridge Analytica), the widespread commotion surrounding the manipulation of voters in the US, the CEO of WhatsApp who resigned after a company-wide disagreement over privacy. Everyday we are asked a number of times to accept new privacy statements, opt-in to new programs and adhere to new terms…it’s never-ending.
We accept these statements automatically and do not take the time to review them due to the abundance of their requests. Despite the reports, we still trust these companies with our data. But is that a valid approach?
Being in the business, we may be looking at the possibilities of using data with rose-colored glasses…hopeful, trusting, optimistic but yet seemingly tainted by our blind trust. For example, by using pixels from Google and Facebook, there are many use cases and possibilities to use my advertisements more effectively and efficiently. I can measure the performance of a campaign, track conversions and build target groups based on behaviour. This way, companies can send messages to the right target groups and can stop if the advertisements do not lead to success. The metrics at which we measure success by using tracking pixels have grown and analytics are much more precise due to these innovations.
There are also disadvantages; by placing tracking pixels, external parties also have access to sensitive (seemingly internal) information. They can see what visitors do on our website, for example which pages are visited. Typically this doesn’t lead to problems, provided that the party for which you place the tracking pixel will handle this information properly and in accordance with the current legislation. The main concern in this process is that you do not want the data about your visitors to be sold to third parties and certainly not if the data is used unethically for predictive models to manipulate people.
This specific issue has recently turned out to be the main problem with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. This was the whistle-blower scenario, the one where David questioned Goliath…and won. The Cambridge Analytica data privacy issue blew the lid off of unethical practices around data privacy and candidly will hold platforms, apps, and user sites much more accountable for what they do with the data after it’s collected. It sends the industry into a tailspin of sorts.
Navads understands the specific data we collect and what it’s intended for, how external parties deal with this and what the risks are. We take safe guards and extra precautions to make sure this data is never compromised as quality data is part of our brand promise and exclusivity is a huge piece of that promise. We want to remain critical by checking whether it really contributes to the customer’s experience and this is why:
> We only work with owner-verified content.
> We will never work with pixels or cookies.
> We manually verify every listing we provide to our endpoints / publisher network.
And yes (unapologetically so), even if this is at the expense of the effectiveness of online advertisements.
On the Subject of Tracking Data…
We always decline when we are approached by companies who are interested in using tracking pixels or even tracking phone numbers in our listings management solution for SMBs and enterprise companies. As we follow best practices for the data that we work with, we refuse these partnerships as they compromise the local search ecosystem. It’s proven that consistent NAP+W (Name, address, phone number and website) should match the contact information on the businesses website and should remain consistent in all search engine, app, map and navigation results. This rewards the businesses with better local and organic SEO results, results in proximity searches, and overall usability. If Navads allowed resellers to include tracking numbers in listings it would allow the reseller to hold their clients hostage to renew, which is completely unethical and against our moral construct as a company.
In conclusion, GDPR calls for universal sanctions in data privacy that Navads has always been compliant with. We have and always will follow best practices to keep our resellers and clients safe.
Robert Bruil is VP of Partnerships at Navads, he is a local search executive interested in early-stage startups as well as established brands looking to increase their reach, frequency, marketshare and outlets in GPS channels, maps, Google, Yahoo!, BING, Apple, TomTom, and yellow pages directories. Bruil also holds road experience in all aspects of geolocation, web & mobile development, mapping, internet and search engine technologies and strategizing. He also possesses keen experience in social media, search engine marketing (SEM), mobile search, search engine rankings (Yellow Pages, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Directories), advertising and branding.