Will A New Service Render Your Ad Campaigns Ineffective?
Getting more site traffic may have come with a heavier price. From the nether regions of cyberspace, online privacy company Abine is making headway on their new product offerings that promise to stop advertisers dead in their tracks. Abine has already released "Block the Trackers," which completely stops companies from tracking visitors when surfing the web.
While this is meant to keep big sites like CNN, Facebook, and many marketing companies from spying on users, it could also throw a wrench into your marketing campaign. You see, Abine's product blocks all websites, by default. Any time you try to track where your visitors are going on your website, Abine's "Block the Trackers" plugin blocks your attempt and notifies the user that he's being tracked.
That kind of thing could cause your site visitor to become annoyed or nervous about what else your site might be doing that Abine doesn't know about yet. While this product is still new, its popularity is growing very quickly.
A Brief History
The guys behind Abine are the same who are behind passwordmaker.org. The popular password-protection software started out as a way for people to easily manage a multitude of passwords while only having to remember one master password. By using one-way hash algorithms, password maker successfully prevents would-be hackers from stealing the user's password. The programers behind passwordmaker described it as "computationally infeasible" to reverse engineer someone's password using their program. Since none of your passwords are stored on your machine, there's nothing to steal.
Fast-forward to today. The guys in the back room decided to get serious about security, and started Abine. They received some pretty serious and solid financial backing that allowed them to build quality privacy-related plugins for Firefox. Now they're turning their attention to Chrome and working out the bugs on Internet Explorer.
Abine also offers a paid service that deletes people from cyberspace. Really? Yes, really. Abine's "Delete Me" service erases online profiles from people search databases. While this might not seem like a big deal, it has a trickle down effect. Once major companies, like Intelius, no longer have an individual's personal information, marketing companies have nothing to buy. When marketing companies have nothing to buy, you have no list of names to buy.
This will basically put an end to lead-generation companies that use anything from old-fashioned advertising to attract leads. But then, if a company is going to build a list that way, they might as well market to the list themselves.
The best part for users? Almost all of their services and plugins are free. Except for the "Delete Me" service, users can use Abine without paying one thin dime. Once Abine's privacy suite becomes more mainstream, advertisers will likely find it much more difficult to track user behavior - especially as users become more and more sensitive to spam and other attempts at customizing marketing messages.
Some users, of course, don't mind advertising. Others, however, see customized advertising as an invasion of privacy. These people don't want marketing companies to know too much about them. Fortunately, you have a chance to turn the tide in your favor right now.
Is The Money Really In The List?
You bet it is. If you can attract subscribers to an email list, and nurture that list, your odds of being blocked decrease dramatically. Why? Well, email is the digital version of that old time-tested method of advertising called "Direct Response." While users may block entire websites like Facebook or sites that are obviously trying to sell something to them, they might not block your site (or, they may choose to unblock your site) if you consistently offer them something of incredible value.
Value is the key word here. You can't be just another marketer trying to make a quick buck. You can't be a marketer trying to make a slow buck either. If you have nothing valuable to offer your subscribers, consider them strangers. That's how they're going to treat you in regards to their privacy settings.
In addition to Abine's tracking blocking plugin, the company has also released "Protected Search." Protected search promises to make all searches done in a search engine private. This means no more tracking for Google or any other major search engine. Goodbye Adwords relevancy. Goodbye keyword research. You won't know what people are searching for anymore.
Perhaps Eric Ward was right when he said you should plan your online marketing campaign as though Google didn't exist - because maybe some day they won't. As search engines increase the effort they put into personalized search, users may feel cornered. Do they really want someone like Google to have all this information about them? If they don't Abine has just provided two very simple tools that effectively shut off all access to personal data sharing.
Since Google, and other search engines, rely heavily on collecting user data about search queries, it could eventually lead to the downfall of index searche as a means of collecting market data. Without that data, Google won't know which ads to serve to Adsense publishers or on its own results pages. It won't have the data it needs to compile meaningful information about what people are searching for. If major search engines don't have this information, you'll have to rely on home-rolled versions of Google Analytics.
How To Protect Yourself
Diversifying your traffic sources is a good place to start. If you don't know where else to get traffic from, outside of Google, Bing, or Yahoo, you're is serious trouble. Think 1990s. Think banner ads. Think ezine ads or paid traffic. Think offline advertising for your website. Getting yourself in front of your target audience in several different ways may just keep you in business if this tracking blocking thing becomes popular.