Cybersecurity: Did you know that simply downloading your email or clicking on web site advertisements may add/download tracking software to your device? Advances in technology now enable advertisers and marketers to track your online habits through the collection of this usage data. Have you ever clicked on an ad on a website for something that interests you, and then found either the ad or a similar ad popping up on other websites, seemingly following you around? This is due to the new trend called “Behavioral Marketing” or “Target Marketing.” When you perform a certain task online, your browser is flagged for that particular interest by all sites using Google search engine tools. And today, most websites you visit will preempt advertisements with those best suited to your interests, favorite products, or brands, based on your past online use.
For marketers, your behavior is essential for them to know so they can design advertising and promotional messages that resonate with you, the user, thus maximizing the advertisement’s impact.
Email works in a similar way. When you download an email and its images to your computer, you are acknowledging you have received that email. Email marketers are able to track how many times you open that email, what you click on, and if you forward that email to someone. They can even tell if you chose not to open the email.
Privacy is a big deal today, but you do have some control of how you are tracked. Here are a few simple steps you can take to limit the amount of information you allow web or email services to track. First let’s address email services. Most email client software has a privacy setting. And it is turned off by default – meaning you CAN be tracked. To turn privacy ON, just go into your preferences setting, and reset your “privacy” settings so images will NOT download automatically. This change will download all of the content in an email except images. If you approve the content of the email as appropriate, you can choose to download the images. Once you acknowledge the download of images, email tracking will be occurring, but it will be only for things that you’re likely interested in.
Mobile devices have a similar setting called “limited advertising” which allows you to choose to download images from emails. This does the same thing as your email client on your desktop, laptop, tablet. The good news is, you have a lot of control of who you allow to track you and your online use.
As for web browsing and advertisements, there are a number of ad blockers in the market that will limit the amount of advertisements you’re exposed to. This is a personal preference and something you should take the time to explore. Just remember, once you click on an ad, you have basically said that you’re interested in that product and or brand and you give permission to that company to market it to you in the future. If that’s a problem for you, simply open your browser preferences and delete all your cookies and cache each day, or set up your browser to do this automatically. This action resets your computer’s website memory and will provide very little to no history to carry on to the next day.
I hope you’re enjoying my Technology Tidbits. And find them interesting and compelling. My philosophy with this column is to make you aware of tech trends that can affect you and your business. Now that you know the potential risks and benefits of website and email tracking, you should feel empowered to make an educated decision on when and how you choose to be tracked. If you’re interested in specific topic or concern email me and I will make sure I address it in a future tech Tuesday review.
Pedro Pérez is a founding partner of Nuevo Advertising Group, and an Adjunct Professor of Global Brand Strategies at Ringling College of Art + Design. For over 17 years Pedro has offered clients his knowledge and expertise. Pedro has always demonstrated a keen analytical sense combined with a good dose of common sense in crafting digital + online marketing strategies as part of an integrated marketing plan.