I'm not sure if anyone has really noticed, but recently a fairly important document was published over in the good 'ol US of A. The document, imaginatively titled "Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising" is, I believe, the last ditch attempt by the industry to avoid the hard line of US government regulation on the online advertising industry.
This document was compiled by a major trade group made up of execs from Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others. The objective would appear to be to appease Washington and consumer groups who believe we are being tracked too closely online.
Having read through the fairly lightweight 55 page document I have to say its fairly open to interpretation. The proposed self-regulation seems to focus on data collection between the numerous online ad networks. But though this would be a move in a positive direction, it is implying the ad networks will agree to work together.
In practice however, this is a seismic shift away from the real world. Both Google and Facebook jealously guard their (or our) data. For this to be adopted and for the ad networks to avoid Washington's red tape there will be some very interesting developments in online advertising in the next few years.
Personally I feel if this self-regulation is adopted, including a stringent set of opt-out policies, it's going to be a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen how big these steps will be.
Recently I have become utterly obsessive about ecommerce and business site design. This began after I spent a few hours reviewing a friend’s Pay Per Click (PPC) invoice. Apart from rivalling the deficit of a national bank his campaign was providing little success. Delving a little deeper, his problem turned out not to be traffic, rather his site has all the basics wrong. While there are many techniques for running lean and successful PPC campaigns I want to take a step back to look at these fundamentals. It’s easy to spend a bucket load of cash on PPC (trust me, I have done it). However, the very first objective for any site owner should be to create a site that achieves its aims. Using ecommerce as an example, this is about converting browsers into buyers. If you can get the principles right, driving traffic should be a secondary and relatively easy objective. Anyone that’s played the popular 90’s computer game Lemmings will know that leaving these suicidal creatures to meander as they please will result in disaster, usually of the dead Lemming kind. The problem isn’t the lack of Lemmings -- there are enough for everyone -- the problem is the route you have devised for them generally ends up in the spiky pit of doom. Business websites sites have the same tendency, but we just call it ‘goal conversion’. Ask yourself, what are the goals of your site? They could be anything from a sale, contact form submission, lead creation or a click somewhere. These goals are the foundations of your site -- the routes for the Lemmings -- and anything else is secondary. Once you have identified these goals you need to optimise for them. It’s an essential and often painful process, but one where you need to be ruthless. Anything detracting from a goal conversion needs stripping away without mercy. Conversely, the message for any areas that need strengthening, is fix them now! It’s only when you are happy that your site meets its goals that spending on PPC makes sense. Just press that button and let the Lemmings jump!