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Old 03-09-12, 06:00 AM   #1
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Post Privacy on the Global Financial Web

This is the first post in our Evidon Global Tracker Report series. Featuring proprietary insight* into and analysis of third-party tracking across the web, articles in the series will be posted monthly and represent the kind of data you'll find in the Evidon Global Tracker Report, the first of which will be distributed at our next Evidon Empower summit in Europe on May 21st. Released semi-annually, the Evidon Global Tracker Report will be edited by thought leader Darren Herman, Chief Digital Media Officer of The Media Kitchen and President of kbs+p Ventures.

In this installment, we look at 9 leading global financial services sites. Using this list from Global Financial magazine as a guide, we selected BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America, Crédit Agricole, and JP Morgan Chase. We examined the 3rd party trackers that have been encountered on the global web properties of these companies since the beginning of 2012.

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As the graph shows, Chase, Bank of America, HSBC, Barclays, and Citi are all active in implementing third party services, with a maximum of 43 unique third party services adopted by Chase. Thereafter we see a decline; with only 8 adopted by Deutsche Bank, the fewest on the list.

The geographical distinction appears to be meaningful. Not only do the organizations whose focus is in Europe employ fewer trackers as a rule; but the US-based companies with EU sites also utilize fewer trackers on those sites. It is possible that heightened cultural and regulatory sensitivity to online privacy in EU member countries is altering otherwise routine business practices for these companies.

The breakdown across third parties offers some interesting clarity into exactly the kinds of tools these companies are adopting.

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Omniture (with the top two positions), ForeSee, and Coremetrics lead the pack; showing that audience measurement is the highest priority among the world's top banks. Also represented in the list of leading partners are several ad networks. These are not ad-serving scripts, but pixels used to measure the effectiveness of ads delivered elsewhere on the web, and collect data for use in future ad campaigns.

The menu on Bank of America's Real Estate Center

Social media, while present, does not appear with the same kind of frequency as the marketing-based scripts mentioned above. Were we to extend the list, Google+ and ShareThis would rank in the mid 40s, behind a variety of other marketing tools and direct customer interaction scripts like LivePerson. (This does not mirror the web taken as a whole, where social scripts are represented heavily at the top of the ranks.) Bank of America, for example, implements social tools most frequently on its real estate listings. Many sites, notably BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole, focus their use of social tools on press releases and talent recruiting.

It's important to note that presence of third party scripts on these sites does not necessarily indicate that user financial data is being shared to advertising companies. While these companies may use some aggregated data about their customers for marketing purposes (the degree of which is disclosed in each company's privacy policy), their use of web-based tracking technology seems to amount to two main goals: measuring their audience for marketing intelligence (and likely for behavioral marketing on other sites), and measuring the effectiveness of their own advertising elsewhere on the web.

So what does all this mean? Each bank's practices can differ, but the data suggests a kind of isolated advertising cycle. Given that the world's leading banks (particularly those with significant US client base) are active in both data collection and use of that data as marketers, a user could be segmented while visiting their bank's online tools, and that data could be used by a different bank for advertising elsewhere on the web. This kind of data trading may be exactly what leading financial marketers are after (who better to target for the use of online banking than someone who uses online banking); but it means that some of the same pool of users could be routinely segmented, targeted, and possibly acquired ' only to be segmented and targeted all over again.

*Data compiled with Ghostrank, Evidon'sGhostery®panel of over 350,000 users worldwide who opt in to report the tracking code they encounter as they browse the web.

If you have ideas about data you'd like to see featured in this series, or ways we can present this data, email Andy at Evidon.com. If you'd like more information about the Evidon Empower summit where the Global Tracker Report will be distributed, email info at Evidon.com.

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