Amidst all the sound and fury of Brexit and TTIP, another item of European legislation has rather slipped under the radar of public attention.
The EU has taken a further step towards tightening existing data protection laws and thereby giving data subjects even more control over how (and indeed if) their personal data is used.
This is the latest in a series of similarly-themed actions taken by the EU, which have had widely-varying responses from businesses, the public and privacy advocates.
The basic logic behind these moves is essentially the same - to give people confidence when using the internet in general and, in particular, when making purchases on it. In other words, the EU is trying to smooth the path towards a digital economy.
The problem is that even at the best of times the EU only has jurisdiction over the countries within its borders (and possibly some degree of influence over some others) and on the internet it can be very difficult to know exactly where a company is based (and seem like too much hassle to check).
Thereby, the fact that the EU is drawing attention to the steps it is taking to (try to) secure the internet, actually has the (presumably unintended) effect of drawing attention to some of the internet's negative aspects.
Web statistics are eye watering
Having said that, statistics on internet usage suggest that today's generation of users are only too aware of the fact that the internet has its drawbacks as well as its advantages.
The use of ad blockers is widespread, as is the use of strategies to gain access to benefits which require the user to provide a valid e-mail address regardless of whether or not the user wishes to do so.
As a side note, we'd suggest that at this point in time, anyone who is using content such as ebooks as a way to collect e-mails for marketing purposes should think long and hard about whether it's really a good idea to force people to enter their e-mails to get the book.
Frankly, we think that at this point you run a serious risk of filling your e-mail list with "use once" e-mail addresses or, in worst case, of getting your domain tagged as a spammer, which can create all kinds of pain.
Likewise, whatever platform rules may say, it's far from unusual for people to have more than one account on the same social media site and/or to have accounts with false names and other false user data.
There may be perfectly valid reasons for them doing so, but it is still a reality of digital marketing, as is the fact that, at current time, there is very little in the way of external validation of the statistical information offered by the major social websites and that's before you get on to the topic of digital ad fraud.
Data is everywhere
Putting all this together makes it clear that digital marketing is in something of a paradoxical situation.
On the one hand, there is clearly a huge quantity of data available (to those who have the capacity to process it), on the other hand, it's equally clear that much of it is unreliable to put it mildly. In other words, digital marketers are now finding themselves in much the same situation as their real-world counterparts.
They need to build up relationships with their own customer base in order to understand and serve them better, which means going where their customers are and trying to engage with them there.
Online is a vast place and getting a person's attention there can be very difficult. This is why we strongly believe that for local companies, their local area should be the focal point of their marketing efforts.
Leaflet delivery in London bypasses all the tools customers use to restrict who has access to them online and ensures that local companies reach local people. As we’ve said before, “the letter box is future proof”.