QotD – How Much Visitor Information Can We Share?

      10 Comments on QotD – How Much Visitor Information Can We Share?
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Today’s QotD is directly related to you, our esteemed reader, and me, the publisher of One Degree:

Through the email addresses of our subscribers and the IP addresses of site visitors we can create a list that reads like the who’s who of Internet marketing agencies and clients in Canada. I’d love to publish these to show potential sponsors the quality of our readership. But I hesitate because the information, while general and aggregated, seems like something people might consider sensitive. For example, I could say “people from FedEx and BlastRadius visit our site weekly.” Is that an invasion of privacy and inappropriate disclosure?

Discuss.
BTW, the feedback here will largely make the decision for me on what I do in fact publish – so make your case if you feel strongly one way or the other!

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10 thoughts on “QotD – How Much Visitor Information Can We Share?

  1. Ross Hill

    I think it probably is crossing the line from something that people expect to be relatively anonymous. Consider getting those people involved in your blog somehow though, possibly interview them. Then you can gain their authority without being too sneaky 🙂

  2. Barry Welford

    Well I don’t feel strongly, Ken, but that is also an answer to consider. As you say the data would be so fuzzy that I wouldn’t take the time to check it. The total traffic numbers are useful, but this addition would be just a ‘yawn’ item.

  3. Ken Schafer - One Degree

    Ross, thanks for the feedback. We have 1,000 of visitors a week now so getting them all involved is probably not realistic. We any online community there is that 1% that is active and vocal and creates, while the other 99% is passive and consumes. That’s about the ratio we have here at One Degree.
    To be clear, I’m not looking to share a COMPLETE list, only selective representative company names – not indviduals or small companies where knowing the company name is the same as knowing the person’s name.

  4. Ken Schafer - One Degree

    Barry, thanks for the feedback. You took a different slant on it than I was expecting. My concern was for readers of One Degree getting their nose out of joint about their company possibly being identified as part of our readership, but you seem to be saying that as a sponsor you wouldn’t care about the list of companies.
    My experience at AIMS, One Degree, and other conferences is that the “who’ll see this” is one of the first questions you get from sponsors and anything you can do to give them recognizable names of companies they’d consider prospects is golden.
    But it may be that people are moving more towards pure ROI and therefore “the List” isn’t as important anymore. I’d be interested in feedback from potential sponsors about whether seeing such a list would help you make the decision.

  5. Kathryn Lagden

    Interesting question Ken, especially since I often get asked the same thing 🙂
    As a customer in this situation I would be ok with the name of my company being shown to sponsors. I think frequency of visit might be a little sensitive. Perhaps you could position it as ‘regular readers’ and define ‘regular’ fairly broadly.
    Reason for this is that I’ve spoken to a few people lately who are conscious of how much time they spend blogging/commenting as they recognize it might be perceived as time not spent on their regular day job. This isn’t quite the same but I do wonder if people might prefer to keep their frequency of reading to themselves.
    Any way you can categorize readers into relevant groups? ie. readers from companies with more than 50 employees, etc. A bit more work for you but might give the potential sponsors the information they need without divulging any data.

  6. Ken Schafer - One Degree

    As a customer in this situation I would be ok with the name of my company being shown to sponsors. I think frequency of visit might be a little sensitive.

    You know I don’t think I would give any frequency. What I really meant was that I’d say something like “Here are 100 companies whose employees subscribed to or visited One Degree last month…”

    Any way you can categorize readers into relevant groups? ie. readers from companies with more than 50 employees, etc.

    At some point we’ll probably do a reader survey to help give richer information to sponsors, but I’m not there yet. We’ve still got lots of growing to do before I get to that.
    This input is great folks! Really appreciate it!

  7. Jason Verwey

    Generally speaking, I would be against this. However, in this particular case, I don’t have a problem. As a active participant in this community, I’m 100% in support of growing/sustaining this site and sponsorship is a excellent way to do so. If you think providing this list will help, you have my blessing.
    Why not create a poll?
    Jason Verwey

  8. June Macdonald

    Well, I think it’s the tradeoff for free information. Used in aggregate, I actually think it’s your right as the site owner and content provider. If I needed to do some stealthy competitive research online and didn’t want a record of it, I would visit my competitor’s site from a generic ISP network, not the office.

  9. Robert Simon

    Frequency is everything Ken. The fact that someone from the Home Depot or Blast Radius happens by your site is meaningless without frequency. As marketers we are looking for patterns of behaviour we can identify and influence. Recurring visits is a powerful barometer for how strongly your site resonates with your visitors.
    Aside from that, I really feel we need to discourage that anonymity is the norm on the internet. We visit sites because we chose to. There is no reason to hide from that.

  10. Colin Smillie

    Hi,
    I’d suggest developing a privacy policy about what you’ll be reporting to help with user expectations. You could post it and solicit feedback for you’re readers too.
    On the posting of individual domains, I’d recommend against it. I’ve recently been involved with a fairly large media buy and none of the media kits included actual domains. Some kits do include information like vertical ( xxx visitors per month from Automotive industry etc.. ) but I’ve never seen individual companies like GM, Ford etc…

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