You may wonder what a recent hack of a U.S. government website, purportedly by the group "Anonymous," has to do with search engine marketing and online marketing, but bear with me as we use this as a segue into the regulatory environment, both in the U.S. and globally.
The conspiracy theorists (including some very bright and sane people) believe that this was a "False Flag" event and that an element or faction of the U.S. government actually hacked one of its own sites in order to pave the way for easy passage of Internet security reform with an emphasis on governmental control to regulate communications.
Whether or not the conspiracy theories are right could end up being a moot point. It wouldn't be surprising to see some mobile and Internet wiretapping bills proposed that gain far greater bipartisan support due to the ammunition provided by this and other hacking incidents. Not many people in Congress even understand the digital ecosystem as well as they should, so a poorly worded law could have far-reaching consequences (both intentional and unintentional).
Before we move on to our discussion of the Internet regulatory landscape, I have to mention that I find myself chuckling every time a hack is claimed by "Anonymous" or blamed on "Anonymous" because anyone can claim to be anonymous… Those of you who watch "Curb Your Enthusiasm" probably remember when Larry gets upset because Ted Danson gets to be "Faux Anonymous," which of course means the reverse is even more true when being the "Anonymous" hacker means your hack will get far more coverage in the press. So when it comes to being a hacker, everyone wants to be "Anonymous."
Anyway, the following are some reasons we, as advertisers and as consumers, should watch the regulatory landscape carefully over the next several years starting immediately:
Even internal teams at companies can't agree. Microsoft wants IE to block third-party cookies by default (or at least send the Do Not Track request), but Microsoft has lots of people in the publishing and advertising side of the organization who think that's not the appropriate setting.
As search engine marketers, the results of both of these investigations and any guidelines, policies, or sanctions that arise from regulatory intervention into our industry will have a direct or indirect impact on our strategies and tactics.
Anonymous image on home page via Shutterstock.
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Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.
March 19, 2014