Friday, June 5, 2009


Two words for marketers today: KISS KIT.

Keep it simple, stupid--Keep it transparent. Transparency builds trust--it's that simple.

Lack of transparency landed Sears Holdings in hot water with the FTC. It just settled an FTC complaint that it hadn't disclosed the extent of the web tracking its "My SHC Community" software would monitor. Users received $10 to download and keep the tracking software in place for a minimum of a month, part of a Sears marketing research study. However, unless they read the entire lengthy agreement, they couldn't know how much of their browsing habits would be tracked. "The complaint charges that Sears' failure to adequately disclose the scope of the tracking software's data collection was deceptive," said the FTC statement.

Lots of sites have lots of monitoring going on in the background, and even heavy users may not be fully aware of the implications. According to a study released this week by grad students at UC Berkeley School of Information: "Popular blogging sites were among the most active trackers, the students found. Blogspot, for example, had 100 "bugs" — or tracking beacons — on its site, and Typepad had 75." As you read this blog, you may very well have a tracking beacon trained on you.

Then there's the terms of service dilemma. You always read the entire TOS disclosure before you visit a site, right? Yet today's TOS may not apply tomorrow. Don't want to re-read the disclosure every time you use a site?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation can help. It's checking hour by hour to see whether popular sites such as Amazon, eBay, Google, and Facebook, hour by hour, are changing their terms of service. You can see the results on its Terms-of-Service Tracker site.

Remember: KISS KIT.

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