Cookie Banners — a Case of Stubborn Minorities without Skin in the Game?

  • data protection is super-mega important
  • you just have to respect users’ privacy “choices
The twisted path to privacy

Who would really accept retargeting?

When the Criteo employees are the only ones you can still track

Talkin’ ‘bout practice

Sorry, could not resist.

Big regulations can be handled by big players only

The stubborn minority of data protection activists

The “Law of the Stubborn Minority”

It suffices for an intransigent minority […] to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences.

Examples of stubborn minorities

  1. 0.6% of U.S. citizens have a peanut allergy. The majority however can eat both peanut-less products (X) and products with peanuts (Y). But even though there are only few peanut allergy sufferers, you will find notes on peanut traces everywhere.
  2. At meetings in most non-English-speaking countries, as soon as one participant speaks only English (X), everyone will switch to English.
    The majority can speak both their preferred native language (Y) and English — or rather its impoverished business variant with usually ear-wrenching pronunciation. So the English speaker will never have to learn another language, as everyone will obey his intolerant preference. And if he is a native speaker, he will be more likely to dominate even conversations abroad as his English is much better than everyone else’s.
  3. A halal eater will never eat non-halal meat (Y), but a non-halal eater can also eat halal (X). So for meat producers, it is easier to let all their animals painfully bleed to death, as that will usually be acceptable for the majority of consumers — even though the majority would prefer Y if given a choice.
  4. A data-conscious minority will refuse WhatsApp and only use Signal/Threema/Wire/etc. The majority prefers WhatsApp, but can use other messengers. The majority thus will end up installing WhatsApp + at least one other messenger.
  5. Even though only a small minority demands opt-in mechanisms like cookie banners, they are everywhere now. The majority prefers the net without cookie banners, but they can of course live with cookie banners.

When the stubborn minority brings benefits for all

Only skin in the game makes you fully credible

  1. You are hired to start E-Mail Marketing for a startup. You have a list of 50,000 emails of people who have ordered or registered in the past, but have not given opt-in to e-mails. Will you
    a) not send the newsletter to these 50,000 people, missing out on a lot of revenue that counts towards your goals?
    Or will you
    b) value privacy so much that you will spend years building up an email list with people who have done a fully compliant opt-in only?
  2. You, the Digital Analytics Expert, are incentivized by your contribution to revenue (e.g. by delivering data to Marketing tools that improve targeting). You discover a great case for using behavioural data from the website to trigger automated emails or text messages (e.g. users who have done X on the website should be sent an email with Y in it). However, your privacy policy does not cover this merging of data. So in theory, you would require explicit additional opt-in consent from your users to connect their supposedly anonymous web behaviour data to the non-anonymous e-mail marketing tool. Will you
    a) ignore that privacy policy and go ahead (maybe with some additional feel-good measures like making sure this practice makes it into the next update of your privacy policy)?
    Or will you
    b) miss this chance of proving your value and hitting your goals, instead lecturing the Head of Marketing that this is illegal?

Why data protecters rarely work for Google Ads

Respect the true data protection practitioners!

  1. We should listen to data protection activists, even to those without skin in the game, because even an unrealistic “ideal state” can be good as a north-star-type of guideline. Their work is important, they are a stubborn minority fighting for a common good and reach improvements everyone benefits from. Cookie banners are the wrong result so far, but hopefully some day we will have a privacy regime that is globally enforceable and user-friendly at the same time.
  2. We should listen even more to data protection activists with skin in the game, i.e. people who have to implement privacy mechanisms and find the difficult path between privacy fundamentalism and practice every day. We should however challenge privacy activists without skin in the game on the practicability of their suggestions.




Digital Analytics Expert. Owner of Creator of the Adobe Analytics Component Manager for Google Sheets:

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Lukas Oldenburg

Lukas Oldenburg

Digital Analytics Expert. Owner of Creator of the Adobe Analytics Component Manager for Google Sheets:

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