While past efforts to develop software to ensure online privacy have focused on delivering desktop tools for customers, new products from Unica Corp. and IDcide Inc. are focused squarely on companies seeking to improve the management and protection of customer privacy at their sites.
Unica, of Lincoln, Mass., last week announced enhancements to its Affinium suite of marketing campaign management and analytics products, delivering features to help companies automate privacy best practices along with their marketing campaigns.
This comes on the heels of IDcides release late last month of Site Monitor, a tool to help chief privacy officers run continuous audits on Web sites to ensure they adhere to companies privacy policies.
Though he stopped short of endorsing Unicas new offerings, privacy advocate Jason Catlett said some of the new features, such as attaching consumer credit information to anonymous IDs instead of real names, were worthwhile.
Catlett, president of Junkbusters Corp., in Green Brook, N.J., said the same of Affiniums capability to hide personally identifiable information from nonauthorized employees. In addition, he praised a new feature that promises to stop e-mail marketing to a customer as soon as the customer opts out of receiving the messages.
"Those features sound useful and helpful to protecting privacy," Catlett said.
The same features appealed to Don Poepping, director of direct marketing operations at the Star-Tribune newspaper, in Minneapolis, which is using Affinium to run marketing campaigns for subscriptions and on behalf of its advertisers.
"As a newspaper that reports on all the bad things happening with privacy abuses, its important to us to respect our customers privacy," Poepping said.
Still, Catlett cautioned that while there was an increasing trend among marketing software companies to add "privacy-related features" to their products, those products are still enabling companies to compile bigger and more sophisticated profiles of their customers. And theres still plenty of room for improvement in the way marketing campaigns are run, he said.
"If you look at e-mail marketing, theres no frequency control; theres no suspend feature if somebody goes on vacation," Catlett said.
Site Monitor continuously audits a sites information-gathering techniques—such as from HTML forms, cookies, Web beacons and clear GIFs—and reports to the CPO on possible compromises of typical privacy best practices, which most sites have their privacy policies indexed to.
Site Monitor may not replace a full audit of a site, but it nonetheless offers useful technology in managing privacy, according to Brian Tretick, principal of Ernst & Young LLPs Privacy Assurance and Advisory Services unit, based in Vienna, Va.
"It speeds some of the [auditing] process up and allows us to take better control of third-party objects," Tretick said.
Pricing for Site Monitor varies according to the size of the site and number of audits run but typically ranges from $50,000 to $250,000, according to IDcide officials.
There is no additional charge for the new privacy features in Unicas Affinium.