The biggest problem with the way analytics data are being collected is that the related privacy policies are inaccurate, said Eric Peterson, a Web analytics consultant at Web Analytics Demystified. “They aren't a good reflection of how data is being used,” Peterson said. For example, some company departments may be using Web analytics data without informing the marketing department, he said. Companies are also using more collection methods than they outline in their policies but are failing to disclose them.
“The biggest challenge we, as marketers, face is raising a greater level of awareness internally of what's happening to the data we collect,” Lovett agreed.
Casey Carey, VP-products at Webtrends, a Web analytics pro-vider that helped push the initiative forward, was more succinct: “At most companies, privacy policies [are created] at a much higher level than marketing,” he said. The code gives marketers a way to broach the subject with privacy and security officers or the legal department, he said, and marketers should always be asking themselves if the way they are capturing data is consistent with the policies that are in place.
Marketers should also find a way to discuss data with other departments, Lovett said. “Think about salespeople who work with sensitive customer data all the time,” he said. “Do they know what the corporate policy is related to taking data out of the CRM tool and using it for other purposes? There should be special provisioned access to data for those people.”
All of these strategies are just the beginning, of course, experts say. Since new regulations and laws can take years to be put into place, the code gives marketers a way to prepare in advance for what may be coming, said Forrester's Stanhope. “The nice thing is that none of the privacy bills is going to be like flipping a switch. It's not going to happen immediately, so we have an opportunity to get out ahead of this,” he said. “We're in a grace period now. We need to look at [the code] and the legislation, and have the conversations internally so we know what they might mean to our businesses so we can be established and prepared.”