WPP's Safecount Makes Cookie Collection Transparent

by Tameka Kee, Wednesday, Aug 1, 2007 6:00 AM ET

Digital data collection, tracking and research firm Safecount--a proprietary division of WPP's Kantar Group--unveiled two free services today. One is geared toward cookie transparency for consumers and the other will manage live survey participation for publishers.

Safecount most recently served as a data collection arm to Kantar's Millward Brown and Dynamic Logic, assisting on campaign effectiveness research for brands such as American Express, General Motors and Procter & Gamble. Its services are now being opened up to other companies.

At the new site, consumers can find out how many times they have seen a Safecount-tracked ad, what information the relevant cookies contain, and opt out of Safecount-sponsored survey participation and data collection. Safecount also offers free, phone-based consumer assistance.

A recent study by the Committee for Marketing and Opinion Research found that 80% of Web users are concerned about threats to their personal privacy, particularly the use of cookies.

Safecount's new service was deemed "an admirable effort to introduce a new level of transparency on cookies to the consumer" by Fran Maier, executive director and president of TRUSTe.

"The cookie viewer on the Safecount Web site should give consumers who are concerned with what is contained in their cookies a new perspective while providing an opt-out mechanism," added Maier.

In addition, Safecount launched Veranda, a service for publishers that aims to streamline the process of collecting survey-based Web site data and ensure a quality user experience.

"Sometimes publishers can have four or five different companies running live Web recruitment efforts at the same time," said Tom Kelly, COO, Safecount. "Veranda channels all visitors through one platform, giving publishers a clear view of how many surveys each user is invited to participate in and how it's impacting the experience overall."

While providing two free, full-scale services, the bulk of Safecount's revenues will come from Web campaign effectiveness research projects, including user participation surveys and other methods of live data collection.

The company is currently managing research for mobile ad campaigns, and Kelly noted that advertiser interest in mobile data collection is mounting. "It's already high," said Kelly. "We have between five and 15 mobile studies scheduled at any given moment, and four months ago we didn't have any."

Safecount also plans to develop new tactics for live data collection for emerging media such as online video, podcasts and streaming radio.


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