Ann Winter
Ann Winter

Member Article

Kino Creative on EU Cookie Directives: part 4

The EU directives cover all kinds of electronic data storage, not just cookies, but cookies are causing the biggest noise. The law requires informed consent from site visitors before cookies are set, potentially stalling traffic to the site. Newcastle-based web design agency Kino Creative have commissioned a series of articles suggesting ways for SMEs to comply while explaining the cookie laws, which Ann Winter has summarised for Bdaily.

Cooking up a mouth-watering compliance strategy

Successful compliance precludes: optimal numbers of informed, consenting site users; minimal intrusion on the user experience; clear compliance strategies; well signposted opt-in and opt-out pathways.

Opt-in pathways will enable access to your site as we know it. Users must consent to cookies being set for personalisation functions, advertising and tracking, blog comments and other feedback functions, native or embedded features like video or ecommerce gateways, whether provided by you or embedded from a third party source.

In the worst case scenario, visitors’ pathways through your site are constantly disrupted or curtailed by pop-ups requesting permission to set cookies. Frustrated visitors flood to less conscientious competitors, never to return again… Hence protests from online commentators that as our online working, shopping and reading habits get faster and more mobile, the EU cookie directives are forcing a dramatic slowdown in site user behaviour, damming up the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, instead of pooling in a reservoir and waiting patiently to trickle through this site’s restrictive privacy safeguards, online customers rush to faster, simpler, if less transparent sites.

This apocalyptic vision holds a lot of currency among the business community. According a KPMG survey published at the end of March 2012, 95% of 55% major UK-based organisations are still not compliant, risking the maximum penalty fine of £500,000.

What does this mean for SMEs?

Informing site users

Kino Creative struck the perfect note with their web-savvy audience: “We use cookies to help us offer you the smartest service at the sharp end of the web. To help us do this we need your consent to receive our cookies. Opt-in here or [read more]( http:/ about our cookies.” The first link elicits consent, the second takes the visitor through Kino Creative’s privacy policy. Read about how placing the opt-in request affected Kino Creative’s site traffic in our last post in this series.

If your target audience is less tech-friendly, you may need more explanation. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), who are responsible for enforcing the EU Cookie Directives, give this example: “Our website uses four cookies that we put on your computer if you agree. These cookies allow us to distinguish you from other users of the website and help us provide you with a good experience and help us improve our site. The cookies we use are ‘analytical’ cookies. They allow us to recognise the number of visitors and see how visitors move around the site. This helps us ensure people find what they need easily. Read more about the analytical cookies we use…”

The most successful strategy I’ve found so far was to turn the request on its head, asking if visitors wanted to change the existing set-up and explaining the value of the cookies used, rather than asking the visitor to do something, for example accept cookies. Here’s an example from BT, the only compliant company so far whose site traffic has not been significantly affected:

“The cookie settings on this website are set to ‘allow all cookies’ to give you the very best experience. If you continue without changing these settings, you consent to this - but if you want, you can change your settings at any time at the bottom of this page.”

Next post in this series: Easy options for SMEs: do marketers really understand the EU cookie

Previously in this series: Audit your cookies; Maximising opt-in requests; Are the EU cookie directives
already out of date?

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ann Winter .

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