Differential privacy

Interesting article from Apple on privacy: here

Understanding how people use their devices often helps in improving the user experience. However, accessing the data that provides such insights — for example, what users type on their keyboards and the websites they visit — can compromise user privacy. We develop a system architecture that enables learning at scale by leveraging local differential privacy, combined with existing privacy best practices. We design efficient and scalable local differentially private algorithms and provide rigorous analyses to demonstrate the tradeoffs among utility, privacy, server computation, and device bandwidth. Understanding the balance among these factors leads us to a successful practical deployment using local differential privacy.



cookieOK, so cookies are actually only mentioned one time in GDPR, but that one time packs a bit of a punch.

Natural persons may be associated with online identifiers… such as internet protocol addresses, cookie identifiers or other identifiers… This may leave traces which, in particular when combined with unique identifiers and other information received by the servers, may be used to create profiles of the natural persons and identify them.

Which translated basically means (taken with other parts of the regulation) if you can identify an individual via their device (directly or indirectly) that makes it personal data.

Now not all cookies will be able to identify users but a whole load of them are. And that includes analytics cookies.

The existing “cookie law” was pretty clear about gaining consent and we all added those cookie bars on to our websites that basically implicitly gained your permission. Well those aren’t any good any more. For any cookies that aren’t strictly necessary to run your site you’re going to have to get explicit consent under GDPR.

That means you need some kind of affirmative action. Like a tick box.

And that consent must be as easy to take away as it was given.

Oh, and it’s about consent. So if you’re not giving a choice then there’s no consent to be given or not. Which basically means you can’t tell your visitors they have to accept or the can’t browse…

Customers ‘bewildered and fearful’ about use of their data – BBC

Nine in 10 people have no idea what companies do with the personal information the firms hold about them, a survey suggests.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) survey of 2,500 people also found 57% did not trust the companies to handle their data responsibly.
And 51% complained that they had been contacted by organisations that had misused their data.

Read more: BBC News – Customers ‘bewildered and fearful’ about use of their data

Social shopping?

facebook logo thumbs upShopping is historically a social experience, of that there can be little argument. It was online shopping that made it a more solitary experience. It seems only logical that people would like to bring back that social element while retaining the convenience of shopping online.

It is not yet easy to pick through the various statistics and review what businesses have done so far to come up with a single answer. Indeed, it’s still probably too early for there to be any kind of established route into making online shopping more social. There are also some trust and privacy issues that some of the social networks must iron out.

But if there’s no clear route, there is a clear business rationale, and that is to sell more. Inherent in that goal is the building of your brand, extending reach and the development of a long-term relationship with your customers to lead to deeper loyalty.

So how do you do it?

You have the pioneers like JC Penney and GameStop who have jumped straight in with full transactional apps on Facebook. Then you have people like BestBuy US who feature their products on Facebook, allow you to share and comment but ultimately lead you back to their site to close the deal. And then there’s the Levi’s approach, which keeps everything on their own site, but integrates with Facebook to allow people to share and comment on their own news feed.

Many of the retailers currently leveraging Facebook have something in common; JC Penney, GameStop, ASOS – these brands sell products that in reality require very little consideration and are largely self-gratifying (clothes, video games, etc). It is highly possible that Facebook shopping in particular is more about impulse buying of lower cost, lower consideration products.

Keep control.

If nobody truly knows the right route to follow, then there are at least some common principles:

  1. Your brand has to be on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter
  2. Don’t use social media to bombard your fans with constant sales messages. Build your brand, build trust and develop your relationship (but don’t bribe with competitions every week or discount coupons).
  3. Update regularly and consistently, but not for the sake of it
  4. Experiment, be brave and evolve, but make sure everything is measurable.
  5. Watch what others do and don’t be afraid to copy.
  6. Leverage social media in your brand campaigns and be confident about it, but continue to use retail spend in the channels that provide the best quantifiable ROI
  7. Facebook shopping will probably be for lower value, low consideration impulse purchases. Accept this and leverage it if you can.

The world of shopping on social media sites is going to evolve and change quickly. If you are going to jump in you need to do it properly and ensure that the benefit to your business is both measurable and quantifiable.

Why customer experience trumps everything

nWzdzmeI’m a very strong believer that for a business to truly succeed and make lots of money, they really have to focus on having a fantastic customer experience.

Yeah, you can make money by having a decent enough customer experience (Amazon?), but if you really want to hit the g-spot it has to be fantastic. This type of experience leads to higher revenue because you get either / or repeat business or referred business entirely for free.

But how do you create a fantastic digital experience? Well, if I could bottle that and sell it I would be relaxing on my own private island somewhere hot and sunny. Because the truth is there is no formula for creating a fantastic digital experience (and indeed, it should stretch beyond digital for clicks and mortar retailers). It will differ from business to business, and not only that, it will continually change and develop as the people who use those experience develop and change.

But what you can do it stay in tune with those changes? Using your web analytics tools, layering on your surveys and user research and testing and things like session replay. Basically it’s staying on top of your game. I’m probably preaching to the converted, but after working for more than 10 years in digital analytics I’ve seen the eye taken off the ball far too many times.