Are you ready for the new cookies law?
What is the new law?
On 25th May this year a new ruling made under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations will mean that you will need to be upfront and honest on how you are using tracking devices, commonly known as cookies, in your digital marketing campaigns.
What is a cookie?
Cookies generally apply to e-commerce and websites where personal information such as buying history is recorded to bring you a more tailored marketing experience.
Am I using cookies in my email campaigns?
Most email marketing software uses a small, almost invisible, pixel image on your emails to give you data on open rate activity, what device the email was opened on, what email client (Hotmail, Yahoo etc) was used and on what browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer) in a system called open tracking.
What is the difference between open tracking used in email marketing and cookies?
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) thinks there is a difference, but we are not so sure. Here are their arguments:
However, until we see cold hard evidence that email is NOT covered in this legislation, we think it is best to assume it is. We think that email could potentially be classed as a cookie as it essentially is having the same outcome.
- Open tracking pixels are downloaded by the consumer; with no way for the marketer to read them back so is exempt from the law.
- Pixels also return information in the same way that web pages return information about the user’s computer, as opposed to cookies which are designed specifically to allow websites to track previous behaviour.
- Open tracking is also associated with an email address and is therefore device independent versus cookies which have a one-to-one relationship with a specific device.
So, what do I need to do?
You should state that anyone signing up to your email campaigns (and all current subscribers) that you are using tracking devices to enhance their experience with your company.
You could do this in two key steps:
Yes, for now. Until we can get some hard evidence that email is NOT included in this leglislation, our best practice advice is to be open and transparent on how and why you are using the existing tracking in your email campaigns to cover your back.
Remember, we are not legal experts so this is guidance rather than doctrine. We’ll keep you updated but if you’re really keen, you can read up-to-the-minute information on the new law at the Information Commissioner's Office.