Editor: Welcome to our new weekly post where we sum up the weeks Digital Marketing news and give you it’s real impact on your marketing efforts. Our new correspondent, Felice, will be summing up the weeks most important stories, and I’ll be adding my  occasional rants and opinions.

New EC directive could affect marketers ability to target their advertising.

The Government has announced that the new EC e-privacy laws which come into effect in May this year will not be enforced, a move that hasn’t gone down well with privacy campaigners. The directive has been heralded as potentially “damaging” by the Internet Advertising Bureau as it would have serious implications for behavioural marketing and targeted advertising based on our browsing habits. The main aim of the directive is to give the consumer more control over the personal data which is stored as cookies leaving a breadcrumb trail of where we’ve been and what we’ve looked at, a treasure trove of information for any digital marketer. The race is now on to develop guidelines which meet the aims of the new directive but also do not negatively affect the user experience, a task that sits with a government department but one which the IAB and the European Advertising Standards Authority are not leaving to chance and have already drawn up their own guidelines asking for self-regulation. One suggestion that has been put forward is for the user to be given the option of opting in or out for every cookie but this would mean being confronted with dozens of consent requests during every browsing session, something that would get very tiresome very quickly. The guidelines are due to be set out by the end of this month but the technology to allow companies to comply with them is still a long way off. Good news for now but any future restrictions on the use of cookies will have serious consequences for marketers who rely on gathering this information to target their advertising.

More on the new EU rules from the BBC and from Computer Weekly


Editor: Basically the majority of useful sites wont work anymore if cookies are switched off. Neither will most web analytics meaning marketers wont be able to confidently track their audience. What is needed is a lot more consumer education before these rather radical rules are implemented. I’m also dubious of what the consumer is actually gaining. We’ll get an interview from the IAB in the coming weeks.


Foursquare 3.0 release reveals new customer engagement opportunities.

Foursquare revealed some exciting new tools in the release of the latest version of the location based mobile game that could help brands engage with their customers. The game encourages users to earn points by checking into locations regularly and crowns the most regular visitor as Mayor of that location, a highly sought after title. Many brands are taking advantage of this feature by offering rewards to their loyal customers in the form of special offers or discounts for repeat visits. If you’re the mayor of your local Domino’s Pizza for example you can claim a free small pizza on a Wednesday whereas other retailers are offering discounts after a few visits such as 10% off on your 5th visit. There are also opportunities for brands that don’t have a physical location to engage with their customers by giving them “tips” which could be a recommendation for a local restaurant or a specific dish, or the best place to take a good photo. These tips can also be bookmarked so that the user can save an action which they can then do at a later time. All of which provides brands with opportunities to positively engage with their customers and build communities around the user’s location and interests. As the game allows users to connect with friends, the earning of points encourages a high level of competition as well as having the ability to share activities or tips. You can see where you’re friends have been and view tips without having to visit the location so users can be influenced by the choices their friends make. Many brands are engaging with Foursquare in a variety of creative ways and because the game is so tied to location the appeal is as great for small independent companies as it is for large multi store consumer giants such as fast food chains and major supermarkets. But as with any online community, the emphasis is on providing useful, interesting information and gives the user the feeling that they are getting insider knowledge. The newest development is the “Explore” tab which uses all of your past check-ins to come up with recommendations for places to go or things to do. It also looks at what you’re friends have been up to and makes suggestions based on this information. So even if you haven’t checked into somewhere enough times to unlock a discount, you will still find the information useful. This game is a little gem and utilises the location based application in an engaging and interesting way that fits perfectly with the lifestyle of its user. With the recent surge of GPS based applications leading many to predict that we have not really begun to tap into the potential for this market, this is certainly a good taster of what is to come and how almost any brand can engage online with their customers and build positive relationships.

Foursquare has a great business and brands website which talks you through the basics and has examples of how other brands have used it to build their customer base.

Editor: I’m still sure of how much uptake FourSquare will ever get because of Facebook offering the ability to check in to physical locations. I can almost always think of other digital marketing priorities but its really down to what percentage eof your target audience is using the service.

Other news

Google instant previews now available on android and iOS

Google have made its instant preview function available on mobile devices which is great news for those of us who have gotten used to Google helping us out with useful search suggestions.

Editor: I don’t care, its not an Apple product ;-)

Facebook get’s 30million users

There’s no getting away from it, Facebook appears to be taking over the world. As of last week, Facebook now has over 30 million users in the UK which equates to almost half the population. Still wondering why your brand should be on Facebook?

Editor: I must be in a cynical mood but this also means half the UK is not on Facebook. Although this doesn’t account for those that can’t be due to age or not being online. If 1 in 11 people on the planet are on Facebook, 10 out of 11 aren’t. Again, pick your channel according to your target audience and suitability to your message.

LinkedIn Release News Service  - LinkedIn Today

LinkedIn news shows you news based on your professional interests and what teh people in your network are sharing and linking. As LinkedIn put it
"Linked In today delivers the day’s top news, tailored to you based on what your connections and industry peers are reading and sharing."


Editor: I interviewed LinkedIn today for the Digital Marketing Podcast - the interview that covers this and many more LinkedIn topics will be live early next week.