Considering that 93% of marketers believe consumers have no idea about the recently implemented cookie laws, it’s not all that surprising that less than 20% of sites have complied with the EU Directive. Unfortunately however, it’s here to stay. And sooner or later, the penalties are going to start to be dished out.
Whilst achieving compliance may be viewed as merely a tedious task to be forcibly undertaken, the importance of it in terms of branding should not be underestimated.
Although admittedly minor, brands must be aware of the continued annoyance that consistently opting in to cookie data causes – multiplied if users are choosing to opt out. Proper site optimisation to recognise and mitigate this fact can not only decrease the likelihood of users clicking “no” to cookies, but in educating consumers and providing them with an informed choice on opting in/out, have a positive branding effect.
Tough currently being in the press for other reasons, one company that has taken this process very seriously is the banking behemoth; Barclays.
In acknowledgment that the ICC’s cookie guidance ( http://bit.ly/Nnveu9 ) is merely a framework to work from, they individually optimised all their cookie-using communication avenues, in an effort to provide consumers with a value-add service and act as a voice of help to consumers amidst the current wide-spread ignorance.
The examination and classification of all 60 of their websites, apps and e-mails, led to experimentation with notification tone, placement, format and size. This resulted in a bespoke platform, site, and page specific level of cookie notification that naturally fits with the environment it’s placed in, and doesn’t interrupt the user’s experience.
Further to this, users are directed to an education section that informs them about the pros and cons of cookies, alongside external links for further info on the topic. This not only helps educate users, but places them in the position to make an informed choice.
Whilst it can be said that the branding effect that undertaking this laborious task will have is not overly significant, neither is it trivial. Also, as more businesses comply with the law and the volume of cookie notifications increases, its importance shall rise (though as more accept cookies, will naturally tail off).
What is potentially more impactful than creating a good consumer experience, is doing it poorly. Merely doing the bare minimum for compliance can easily result in a clunky user journey. Not only will this decrease the likelihood of cookie acceptance, but may decrease brand trust and affinity - and considering the broad wording of the law may not even be legal.
Overall, the main points businesses can learn from Barclays are: Be rigorous, think about usability, treat each communication method individually, and try to make it as positive an experience as possible. (And most importantly, if you break the law you’ll eventually get caught).
By Owen Lee
 KPMG May 2012  E-Consultancy May 2012  N.B. Information on Barclays was taken from attending The IDM’s event - New EU Cookie Directive: What you absolutely need to know, 26th Jun 2012.