Problems with Privacy: Web Analytics? Facebook? Wait till you try VisitorID and Google Search | Cardinal Path Blog
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Problems with Privacy: Web Analytics? Facebook? Wait till you try VisitorID and Google Search

You know how everyone keeps ranting about Google Analytics and its tracking cookies, or Facebook and opening up its user data?

Well they don’t got nothin on Pardot.

Pardot markets a “marketing automation and lead management” suite that does a lot of different things. However, its lead scoring and information gathering services combine a level of data that, well, quite frankly is intimidating.

At first the system seems pretty standard. It records users interactions with your site, and automates the grading of prospects who may be leads. It records any information they input into your webforms and combines as much personally identifiable information as possible. This might bother people somewhat, but really isn’t that bad. (after all, you gave them your info willingly, right?) Where it gets creepy is when you start combining this with outside information sources.

I don’t have access to their $3000 a month full program (nor even their $500 a month suite), but they do offer a freeVisitorIDservice. VisitorID reports on who is visiting your website. Once setup, it tracks each IP address that visits you, then combines it with whois information, giving you a business in most cases, and a name in some. Then it provides you with links to linkedin, Google, and Jigsaw, to expand what you know

Lets take an example:

Today someone from Nova University visited us.

By clicking on their name I get that they spent 21 minutes looking at the Google Analytics setup (implementing) checklist. It also tells me that they’re from 3301 College Avenue Ft.Lauderdale Florida (all this comes from their whois information, which is publicly available to anyone).

Pretty good, eh? But wait!

Going Beyond Automation

Combining information is when it really starts to get scary. Let’s say I want to take this a step further.

By clicking on the jigsaw icon it connects me to jigsaw.com (from Salesforce) which, provided you have an account, will give me858of their employee’s contact information. We’re talking office location, phone number, email address, and more.

In this case I’ve taken one John Joos, President. I can’t verify Jigsaw’s information, so the first thing I’d do is check with the university. Sure enough, John Joos isn’tthe president. So maybe that Jigsaw info isn’t so scary.

But just who is he? Let’s check the short list of Google, piple.com, and 123people.com results for the keyword ‘”John Joos” Nova university’.

  • John Joos teaches Marketing and Delivering Superior Customer Service to Masters in Business Administration candidates at Nova Southeastern University
  • His work email address is… well, I’m not going to tell you that, but it isn’t hard to find. His personal email is a little harder.
  • He presented his dissertation in 1994, it was on the correlation of hourly employee attitudes and pay for performance
  • He has written about the role of social media in hiring and recruiting
  • He lives in Sautee Ga, on the side of a mountain
  • He was in the AF (gonna guess air force) in 1964
  • Worked for 27 years in Bellsouth Corp
  • He used to play drums in a band called the Bomarcs. They never recorded.
  • He’s pretty awesome.

All of this from 10 minutes of searching.

Now to be fair, he’s a fairly public person (he’s an author and Professor after all), and this would be nowhere near as easy with, say, Gaven Ditchfeld from Machester, UK, who also visited our site. It’s much harder to trace some one who doesn’t have an institution that they are tied to. In fact, people who move a lot and change jobs become very hard to track. People who just don’t have a lot of public info become very hard, like Ga…

Gavin Ditchfield of Opal Telecommunications Plc, Northbank Industrial Estate, Irlam, Manchester M44 5BL

Well, actually Gaven didn’t really visit. That’s just what comes up when you WHOIS an IP address coming from Opal, so it’s not that scary since really all we have is some business information.

And maybe a facebook page

With data aggregation tools, such as Pardot’s VisitorID, it is becoming easier and easier to bring together disparate pieces of information, allowing really stunning research on individuals to be done at the tip of a hat. We talk about cookies and tracking behavior and all of this as if it’s scary, but these are nothing compared to an IP address and some Google-fu.

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