Privacy & The Internet of Me

I recently attended an industry event where analysts from Gartner and Forrester discussed some of the key industry trends.  They identified two major technology categories:

  1. Wearable Devices – anything from Google Glass to FitBit to RFID tagged clothing
  2. Data Analytics – in particular, those applications and services that present data in a fashion that can be easily consumed by the average business person or consumer –  without the aid of a data scientist or analyst.

The next obvious question asked of the analysts was, “What about privacy?”  In unison, both chimed in that it is the pivotal issue surrounding the success or failure of certain products, services and initiatives in this space.  We agree.


Connected devices provide enormous information about each of us that can be used to help us get more exercise, loose weight, manage our household security, the location of our children and elder parents and even manage chronic diseases more effectively.  This information, if not managed properly can lead to unwanted marketing messages, at best, and pricing or service access discrimination by unscrupulous organizations.  Technologists talk about the opportunity of the Internet of Things (IoT).  From a societal and business policy perspective, the discussion is really about the “Internet of Me” (IoM).

It becomes imperative that users have a choice about the control, use and flow of their personal data.  It also becomes vital that companies who collect and/or use connected device data have clear and unambiguous policies and disclosures about data use.  Remember – pie isn’t free at the truck stop.  There is always a cost – obvious, or hidden.  So before you choose a “free” service over a paid subscription, or finalize your connected device data business plans, take to the time to understand if and how all that “IoM” data will be used.

Responsive Web Design – The Wave of the Future

Recently, I was contacted by a responsive design blogger.  Apparently, a blog comment of mine rang true with him.  So I started to do a little digging and found that the concept of Responsive Web Design (RWD) is picking up steam as noted in this recent Forbes article, Why You Need to Prioritize Responsive Design Right Now.  The concept now has a Wikipedia page associated with it, which skews to the technical side of the movement.

It appears that the concept of RWD is attributed to Ethan Macrotte in his 2010 blog, A List Apart) may have been an extension of the responsive design architectural theory that outlines how physical spaces may respond to the presence of people passing through them. This is a sea change in design that impacts many industries.


While there are a few technical standards emerging around the responsive design concept, my interest lies around the goal – to make Web content responsive to the device that is accessing it.  As noted in the Forbes article, responsive design (a technical term) has now made it into the Forbes E-Commerce Marketing Checklist for 2013.  This is a relatively new technical concept and it is already making it into the marketing mainstream.  That is a very big deal and a very good trend for increased relevance and personalization of Web content.

Location-based services were the first real step in RWD and now device detection and mobile content are taking hold.  Take responsive web design one step further and content, including navigation options, may be modified in real-time, for each individual user.  This is the marketer’s holy grail of one-to-one marketing – and it is available right now.

We here at 3PMobile are working hard to make the Responsive Web Design vision a reality.  We believe that to truly be responsive, you must know the user’s preferences – and respect those preferences.  Our Choice® software provides marketers and IT with the data they need to respond not only to the multitude of today’s devices, but directly to their individual customers’ needs and preferences.  When you respect choice and respond with relevant Web content, you build loyalty and improve the bottom line.

Openness – The Key to Monetizing Mobile

(Or Why I think 3P-Based Infrastructure and Value-Add Channels are Sexy)

Over the past decade, rapid advancements in mobile technology and mobility in general, have changed how we live and how we do business.  It has changed us from an “on-demand” world to an “always connected” world.  No doubt, mobile is here to stay and it is big business; but it’s just getting started.  We are just approaching the point where open standards and open channels can deliver the real benefit of a business ecosystem.

Modern mobility started as a walled garden.  The carriers and handset companies controlled everything due to very real bandwidth constraints, network limitations and industry knowledge.  Voice improved, but data experiences were still lacking.  Good money was made on mostly disconnected enterprise app development for Palm, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices. Over time, control shifted to the OS companies, where vertically integrated handsets and operating systems were designed to support better consistency in the user experience. Unfortunately, controlling the user experience has lead to more restrictive monetization models, locking out most developers from making meaningful money.  Effectively, we shifted the gatekeepers from the carriers to companies like Apple – but at the expense of the channels that provide value-add functionality and content.  One step forward.  One step backward.

Users appreciated the improved experience, so brought their devices to work.  BYOD was born, and with it, arose app development, security and curation platforms.  Emerging leaders in this space include Adobe, Antenna, Good and Appcelerator, to name a few.  In an effort to simplify and improve profitability, market consolidation is underway. While this may simplify things in the future, it is currently wreaking havoc on IT.  Platforms have added complexity without improving the user experience.

The answer to many of these problems is staring us in the face.  Apple had the original right idea – “the real Web on your mobile phone.”  The infrastructure just wasn’t quite ready back then and the user experience was limited to the user interface – which is a naïve view of modern mobility.  An “app for that” was born and now we are living with the fallout.

Improved bandwidth, ubiquitous connectivity, attention to user experience and now, an emphasis on simplifying security, management and app access are all here – everything needed to lay the groundwork for an incredibly rich mobile ecosystem.  It’s an ecosystem, which can be monetized by the greatest number of development, product and service delivery channels.  We’ve made great strides forward, but in order to realize the monetary benefit throughout the entire ecosystem, a new openness must ensue; the kind of openness that is exemplified by the Web economy.

Just as Microsoft created an open and engaging development community that fueled the PC economy, one, or more of these infrastructure leaders must apply the same model to mobility.  How?

  1. Deliver an exceptional user experience.  Include optimal performance, privacy and security management, and the ability to personalize the experience by device, location and personal preferences.
  2. Include meaningful channel monetization opportunities.  Offer standards-based tools, support and best practice advice for developers, integrators and service providers that can be put to use with existing skills and expertise.
  3. Provide a platform that supports choice.  Choice for both app and Web-based solutions.  Choice that supports both free and paid content.  Choice that supports both consumer and enterprise needs.

Once these three criteria are met, as in industry we no longer have to build walls in the name of bandwidth, user experience, or preserving the “free Web” business model.  With the openness of Web standards, we can increase user choice and satisfaction, while unlocking mobile monetization for the entire ecosystem.  (Although the thoughtful few that move first will reap the biggest benefits).

While most people don’t view infrastructure as sexy, I believe that adding the 3Ps to mobility not only makes infrastructure cool, but also enables new channels and all classes of business to fully monetize mobility.   Now, who in business doesn’t think making money is sexy?!

Google joins the Do Not Track Party


Just downloaded the latest version of Chrome and it’s official – Do Not Track is now a Privacy setting. Although you might want to read the disclaimer that shows up when you check the box.

Consumer Protection – the Do Not Track standard – & the W3C


Privacy Please


The Do Not Track standard is now live in every major OEM browser. Consumers who are interested can check a box marked ‘Tell Web sites not to track me’ and the browser will add a ‘header’ (a message) to every request the user makes in the browser, indicating to the Web server that the person does not wish to be tracked.

It really is incredibly simple – and it’s biased towards Consumer Protection, as it should be. However that’s not the end of the story. The W3C is being pressured to water down the spec via the advertising industry. Instead of the Tracking Protection Working Group it’s fast becoming the ‘Please God Don’t Let Us Lose Any Money’ Working Group. If you want to see how bad things are spend a few minutes/hours reading through the mailing lists – link (you’ll be shocked)

There have been lots of blog posts in the last few days on this subject – it’s culminated with Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda Online privacy and online business giving us an update on Do Not Track The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)/Brussels, 11 October 2012 – link

If the W3C is going to retain ANY credibility from this process they have to ship a standard that is in favor on the consumer. Failure to do so is really not an option as the stakes are so enormous. The alternative is to bring in the regulators which is what Neelie’s next statement will be focusing on if Do Not Track fails to do the job it promised to do.

Every browser now supports sending the Do Not Track signal – what’s taking so long is figuring out all the myriad ways that the Web servers can ‘game the system’ to avoid it. They’d be better off served accepting it and moving forward, because if they don’t like Do Not Track they’re sure not going to like what the regulators have in store for them.

Why the proposed Do Not Track standard is going to fail – it’s all about Trust



As the saying goes “A civilized society cannot function without trust”, ergo it’s also appropriate to extend that premise to the Internet – “A civilized Internet based society cannot function without trust”.

So how do we define trust? There’s a great definition to be found on the Web – link – in short:

“Trust is a person’s willingness to accept and/or increase their vulnerability by relying on implicit or explicit information.”

So how does this all related to the proposed Do Not Track standard? Well the idea is a simple one – the user goes to his/her browser, clicks on the Menu, selects the Privacy option and then checks the box marked ‘Ask Web sites Not to Track Me”. You are now sending a message to a content provider that you are unwilling to “Trust” their behavior when it comes to sharing your data. You are reducing your vulnerability by transmit explicit information.

Now imagine you find out that even though you are sending this explicit information that the Web content provider is not only still tracking you but also sharing your data with other parties. Instantly your trust in them is diminished and the lack of value they offer you is also greatly diminished. Trust is therefore ‘Contextual’. You have relied on a Web content provider to NOT do something and they have now failed.

This is exactly where Do Not Track is heading. The very second you transmit that explicit value to a content provider and they do not honor it the whole standard instantly collapses. Ironically they cannot afford to stay in business and offer free services WITHOUT the ability to share your data.

So what does Do Not Track need in order to overcome this problem. What would help content providers ‘WANT’ to honor that setting? Well for one it needs to be marketed as a true standard where one can have ‘confidence’ in the fact that if you chose the DNT setting that you will not be tracked. Secondly it needs to be extended to support additional ‘Contextual Fields’ that the user can share with the content provider. Binary solutions (like the current standard) lack the context needed to deliver value (without breaking the rules). For DNT to truly work it needs a mechanism whereby I can share more data and increase my trust levels in return for a better experience.

This becomes the win – win we so often talk about. Right now it’s a win – lose. If I enable that Privacy setting and the content provider honors it then all 3rd parties are prevented from seeing my data. This means that only the very largest content providers survive and overnight a huge part of the ad industry is wiped out. Ergo the incentive to cheat is so ridiculously high that DNT will fail instantly. If it’s a choice between sharing data and staying in business and not sharing data and going out of business what would you do?

Do Not Track is NOT a privacy solution, it’s NOT a Trusted solution – in short it offers no value to an industry that is built on sharing your data. What we need is a solution that increases the value of my data that I’m willing to share – we call that solution Choice® 

The Future of Social Media Marketing?

The following article was written by Emily R. Coleman, President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc. When I first read it I absolutely knew that Emily had hit the proverbial nail on the head, and with her permission we’re now adding it to our blog.

A friend recently sent me Evan Bailyn’s Outsmarting Social Media with the instructions to “Read it!”  It’s an interesting book, well worth the time to look at.  Bailyn has some thoughtful and practical suggestions and insights on marketing through Facebook and Twitter (although I think Facebook’s new Timeline has thrown him a curve).

The subtitle of the book is “Profiting in the Age of Friendship Marketing,” and one of Bailyn’s key themes is how social media are changing the way marketers and advertising agencies will be using “influencers.”  With social media, the concept of “influencer” (or “trend setter”) is being brought down from the realm of celebrities to individuals in our lives whose opinions we respect.

What makes this granularity and personalization of influence so potent is that we decide who influences us, taking the guess work out of picking spokespersons.  As we add more and more personal information to our personal social media accounts, and as Facebook and Google (whom Bailyn sees as the main competitors in this emerging arena) perfect algorithms for real-time and truly personalized search, marketers and advertisers will be able to deliver their pitches at the level of the individual.  (In fact, Google has just rolled out its newKnowledge Graph or “semantic web” to make searches more personalized and intuitive.) 

Bailyn foresees the time when ads for sneakers, for example, will be sent to you with a picture of one of your individually chosen influencer friends wearing or endorsing the brand.

As a marketer, that sounds pretty exciting.  People will tell us what they want, what they need, and what they worry about.  Even better, they’ll tell us who they know who would influence their buying decision.  Wow!  My job just got a whole lot easier.

I have no doubt that sometime in the not-too-distant future, women will be getting personalized lingerie ads and Cialis™ promotions will be targeted more precisely.

As an individual, however, the whole thing makes me a little queasy.

It’s probably a generational thing, but I have a profound objection to the notion of my friends becoming shills for products.  Certainly, I’m interested in their opinions and experiences with products and services and just plain stuff.  But when I want those opinions, I’ll ask for them.  (And I really don’t care what underwear my friends prefer.)  More important, as soon as these opinions are co-opted by advertisers, they will be significantly diminished in my eyes.  (Actually, I’d probably get in touch with my friends and ask them if they knew they were being used, and what were they thinking!).

Certainly, the idea of friendship (or relationship) marketing is not new.  It is, after all, the basis for all the multi-level marketing (MLM) programs.

What is new is taking the personal out of the personal relationships, interjecting third-party interests between the individual and the individual’s influencers.

What is new is the coming unprecedented ability to gather and manipulate vast amounts of personal information at the most granular and individual level.

Okay, so I admit it.  I’m old-fashioned.  I’m not looking forward to a brave new world where we put more and more of what used to be private information online.  And I’m not looking forward to a brave new world where that information is increasingly accessed by people I don’t know and is used to try and sell me stuff.  I get enough unsolicited suggestions for how I should spend my money as it is.

I have no issue with companies making billions off “friendship marketing.”  I am a capitalist to my toes. (Though I am probably not going to be a very good target for their campaigns.)

But this data collection (voluntary as it may be) makes me queasy because: 

  • It will probably be a matter of minutes before politicians and political causes catch on to the advantages of granular marketing.  They will obviously use this accessible database for fund-raising, volunteer gathering, and get-out-the-vote drives – at a minimum.
  • How long do you think it will be before politicians and government agencies use this data in less benign ways?
  • What do you think the chances are that all this private and personal information you are consolidating on social media sites will not be hacked?

Okay, I’m old fashioned.  But I fear that in the not-too-distant future, we will be reminiscing about what personal privacy used to mean. 

About Emily R. Coleman

Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc., a consultancy that specializes in helping companies extend their marketing reach and impact.  Her hands-on experience extends from the development and integration of enterprise-wide marketing communications, through the creation and implementation of strategy to achieve business objectives, into the innovation of techniques to ensure that tactics support business strategy.  Dr. Coleman can be reached at  She can be found on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

Choice – The Lynchpin to Online Privacy



Choice – such a simple word, and yet so misunderstood when it comes to privacy. All I really want is a say in how people use my private data. I want to participate in the process vs. getting frozen out.

In the last few days Microsoft shipped the pre-release version of Windows 8. In doing so they stunned the online privacy community. There crime? They dared to make a choice for the user. In the browser they turned on the default setting for Do Not Track which offers the highest level of privacy.

Quelle Horreur (isn’t that awful). They made a choice for the consumer. The advertising community immediately launched a PR campaign decrying the approach. Let users make the choice on their own they screamed – and to some extent I have to agree. But (there’s always a but) you have to remember that Microsoft is a global OS company and ships their software to countries that have far more stringent privacy laws than ours. Nobody wants to ship an OS that by default opens them up to litigation.

And so they made a choice. In the US the W3C group tasked with coming up with a solution for online privacy is in a quandary. What should they do? Some want the default setting to be the same as Windows 8, and yet others (from the advertising community) argue for doing nothing (no settings are made).

I think we should add a single word here that can help us resolve this issue. “Informed” as in informed choice. If the W3C wants the default set to no settings, then they must offer a choice to the consumer when they go to install the browser.

Simply doing nothing is not a choice when it comes to privacy, and only perpetuates the already high levels of mistrust within the online community.

Privacy is about to get really expensive




Tomorrow is the big day. The day the EU-Cookie directive goes into effect. Already people are talking about how expensive it will be to maintain compliance. Well folks they haven’t seen anything yet. 

It’s not only expensive to be in compliance, you also have to think about the lost revenue that comes from being in compliance. I’ve been surfing around some EU sites and can already see the “banner-like” ads asking if you would like to Opt-In to having cookies on your device. I simply ignore them because there’s NO downside. Funnily enough my experience is IDENTICAL with and without the cookies.

Hmmm – think about that for a moment. An identical experience and I get to keep my privacy. I like it. But this is a #fail. What should be happening is that my experience gets better if I Opt-In.

So corporations are going to have spend money to be in compliance and loss money because they’re in compliance. Time to look for a solution that enables net new revenue from protecting my #privacy.

The Privacy Oxymoron – How do I increase My Privacy AND still get a great online experience




Everyday now there is more and more discussion on Privacy. On the one hand you have the Privacy advocates who want nothing more than complete control over every aspect of their Privacy, and then on the other hand you have the Govt. and online content providers who want even more detailed information on you. 

It’s becoming like a Seinfeld episode – “something’s got to give Jerry!”.

But what? Privacy is really an oxymoron unto itself. If you de-identify data enough it has no value in which case the experience isn’t going to be that great because Web sites are built around figuring out who you are.

Two articles appeared on the Web today:

  1. How ‘Do Not Track’ Could Kill The Internet Startup Economy
  2. Developer Builds Privacy-enhancing Web Browser for Apple Devices

Also I’m starting to see Do Not Track show up in public company filings – saying that it could effect earnings. Let’s face it the Web has been built on the premise that in exchange for “free” I get to use your information. So it could be a huge drain on resources if this standard gets implemented. And now we’re also seeing new browsers pop-up (no pun intended) that basically anonymize your tracks on the Internet, but slows down your experience.

What continues to perplex me is that no one is turning this problem “on it’s head” and looking at it from a different perspective. It’s an opportunity vs a problem.

Lets face it nobody is going to suddenly overturn the last 10 years on the Internet. We’re all addicted to free and we basically turn a blind eye to Web sites using my private data. However with Mobile showing up to the party things are beginning to change. Mobile is deemed “really personal” and so we want to be sure that nobody is tracking us while we walk around. 

So can we really ever have our “cake and eat it to?” 

Well yes – I think we can. I wrote about how in a previous blog (A Contextual Approach to Online Privacy – It’s all about Me) but it bears repeating. What’s going to be needed is a way to placate both “stakeholders” – Me the consumer and You the content provider.

What I want is:

  • Convenience
  • Privacy
  • Control

What the Content Provider wants is:

  • Control
  • Commerce ($$$)

What we have to do is “align” those two sides and give them away to resolve the differences – when we align those sides you’ll see the real power of the Internet realized for the first time. 

So instead of trying to create more complexity, instead look for more simplicity. Alignment vs disorder. And as usual the answer will be staring us in the face.