The Web Analytics Code of Ethics and Consultants

Currently, there’s a massive discussion on the Web Analytics Code of Ethics being formulated by our leading industry group, the WAA.  You can examine the Code of Ethics here.

It’s an excellent framework discussing consumer privacy, data ownership and other items that clearly need to be defined in the brave new world of online data collection.

I think we need to go one further though for those of us consultants that work with multiple clients.  We have access to data that belongs TO our clients, collected FROM their customers.  This puts us in the unique position of gathering our own intelligence on multiple industries, segments, product sets, and individual companies.  How can we leverage that data?  Moreover, how SHOULDN’T we leverage that data?

The Client to Client Web Analytics Firewall

Building a Code of Ethics

It’s always been my position, as a consultant, employee, analyst and blogger, to keep each unique set of data in its own bucket.  When I publish a blog post, I eliminate keywords and landing pages, and discuss statistics in the broadest of terms.  When discussing our profession or past results with new or prospective clients, an analyst should again paint broad strokes, and recognize the sensitivity of the data we have access to.

It shouldn’t be shared from client to client.

What about philosophies though?  Advanced Segments?  Tracking strategies?

All the client data we have access to becomes our school of experience.  It’s difficult to “forget” certain successes or failures of the past when moving on to new challenges.  In fact, that’s what all future clients will be counting on you for.  So I think it’s important we add a provision directly relating to third party analysts:

I will respect the privacy of each of my clients, and use my knowledge of their business goals, objectives, and methods to further only their cause.  I will not leverage any gained experience in a way that unduly compromises a client, current, past or future, or jeopardizes their ability to maintain a competitive edge due to my work with them.

What do you think?  Is this simply implied?  Or should it be included in any official industry code of ethics?

(Photo Courtesy WikiMedia Commons)

About kevin

I work as an internet marketing manager in domestic (US) manufacturing, and blog about B2B web lead generation, CRMs, web analytics, and a little bit about affiliate marketing. I also am an avid Kayak Fisherman.