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FreePint BlogTweeting and cookies - more compliance headaches

Tuesday, 8th March 2011 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Tim Buckley Owen


Hoover’s new eCommerce offering could be a boon to cost-conscious companies looking to build tailor-made prospect lists economically.  But if those companies operate in Britain, they may have to be more careful in future about how they pitch to those prospects and what data they store on them.

Based on its database of 85 million contacts, Hoover’s claim is that its streamlined eCommerce platform is the antidote to traditional static “one size fits all” lists.  Clearly aimed at businesses for which large scale national advertising may not be an option, it allows sales and marketing professionals to leverage Hoover’s Essentials and Lead Builder products to build lists that match their target markets, and purchase them online. 

Thereafter it’s only natural that those businesses should want to tempt the prospects to their websites, invite them to follow them on Twitter and try to sell to them online.  But since the start of March that’s become a slightly more hazardous process for British businesses, and there’s more regulation on the way.

It was a year ago that the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced that it was consulting on extending its remit to marketing communications on advertisers’ own websites.  Not only would corporate sites be caught by the new regime, but so too would brand activity on social media, leading LiveWire to suggest that a company could bring trouble on itself through an off-the-cuff comment on its Facebook page or a single incautious tweet.

The ASA has had over 4,500 complaints that it couldn’t deal with since 2008 – but now it can.  The Committee of Advertising Practice Code has been revised to reflect the changes, and the ASA has a special web page dedicated to naming and shaming offenders – blank at the time of this posting, but probably not for long.

But assuming that your monitoring of corporate messages on the web and social media is robust enough to avoid that fate, there’s another eCommerce regulation coming along for when you’re establishing that vital relationship with your new prospect.  New European rules are about to come into effect in Britain, saying what you can and can’t do with cookies.

From 25 May 2011, an amendment to the European Union Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive will require UK organisations to ask permission from visitors to their websites before they store and retrieve usage information on users’ computers, the Information Commissioner’s Office warns.  It also advises that organisations should be thinking now about how best to meet the Directive’s requirements.

Information managers could of course park all this as falling within sales & marketing’s or IT’s remit.  But if info pros are seeking a comprehensive corporate compliance role, then it’s probably their concern too.


About this item:

Tim is an information skills trainer and writer on the information industry with over 40 years' experience in the profession. His career has encompassed information management, writing, editing, training, government policy advice and corporate media & marketing.

Besides writing for FreePint, Tim runs courses for training providers and private clients on enquiry handling, abstracting & summarising, information packaging & presentation and information management. The sixth edition of his classic handbook Successful Enquiry Answering Every Time is published by Facet Publishing. You can find details of Tim's training services at

Tim can also be reached at

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