Search engine marketers today must be mindful of the legal issues surrounding the medium — click fraud, copyright infringements, consumer privacy regulations, to name just a few. While an effective and efficient means for acquiring customers, the vehicle has its perils. In a session at last week’s Search Marketing Expo East conference in New York City, a panel of legal authorities led a session aimed at educating search marketers on the latest legal developments in their industry.
When it comes to search today, behavioral targeting and privacy issues dominate the legal landscape. “There’s a general squeamishness about behavioral targeting,” said Mark Rosenberg, counsel at Sills Cummis & Gross law firm, “and a lot of it’s based on a lack of understanding.”
The general rule of thumb when it comes to using personal identifying information (PII) is you need to ask the consumer’s permission through an opt-in process. But there’s always a public outcry when you merge PII with anonymous Web browsing, warned Roy Shkedi, founder and CEO of the media and advertising technology firm AlmondNet. “You need to tell people about online data acquisition.” Shkedi said self-regulation is the key, noting that all sites should have a privacy clause at the bottom. And if you do share PII, state that you do this anonymously and provide the terms of the agreement, as well as the opportunity for the consumer to opt out.
Google AdWords account ownership disputes are also frequently posing challenges for search marketers, particularly within organizations. According to a recent ruling, AdWords account information (such as a password) was ruled trade secrets. With this in mind, Jonathan Hochman, founder and president of the Internet marketing services firm Hochman Consultants, posed four questions that every search marketer should ask themselves:
* Do you have a contract with your consultants/clients that specifies who owns the AdWords account?