The UK Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations finally came into force on 26th May to much confusion (not to mention snarling and gnashing of teeth). Known as the Cookie Law, it actually applies to all tracking online.
Controlling tracking sounds like a great idea doesn’t it. Protect our privacy and all that.
But, cookies aren’t bad, evil or even affect our privacy for the most part. Businesses online need cookies.
From analytics to social sharing to shopping carts – all these features need some form of tracking information to work. They don’t take down your name, address and date of birth and send them to some criminal underworld to have your identity stolen. They just make everything work and allow businesses to measure what is going on with their website.
Some cookies that are necessary to make a website work – like shopping carts – are exempt. However, essential cookies for running a business online – your analytics – are not.
A Cookie Opt In?
The new cookie rule meant website owners need to ask permission to drop cookies on visitors’ computers.
At the eleventh hour the ICO changed their mind about how the rule could be implemented. Implied consent is now Ok – they said that the day before the rule was implemented.
If they were clear right at the very beginning most of us would have just said, “These are the cookies used on my website, it’s up to you the viewer to block them if you choose.” That would have been that, no headaches, no wasted time, and for some businesses no small fortunes spent implementing cookie controls.
Cookie Opt In Pitfalls
Deep down, I like rules. I’m comfortable working within guidelines, you know where you stand (although, it’s true if I don’t like where I am standing I tend to kick up a bit of a fuss!) So, I left my cookie opt in box on till now, while I measure the impact.
But, I am also a business. Without measuring how my website is doing, I have no way of improving it or removing things that don’t work.
Cookie optin was definitely not working for me. My analytics were useless.
I knew how many people came to the site, and where they came from. Useful info like how long people stayed and whether they clicked through to other pages suddenly disappeared.
My bounce rate shot up to 96% – a bounce is when people click on your website and then leave again without viewing any other pages.
Average time on site dropped to 13 seconds and 97% of my visitors were “new” visitors.
What was I doing wrong?!
Actually, nothing. What the numbers do tell me is when given the choice to opt in to cookies, most people ignore the request. No surprises there then, that’s human nature.
So, the cookie opt in has gone. I can’t work blind.
For those of you who are seriously concerned about cookies, you can turn them off in your browser. All About Cookies has instructions for most browsers.
What are your thoughts on the Cookie Law? Have you made steps towards implementation? Your comments are welcome below.