More businesses are failing to tell users how they track them

Data protection
(Image credit: Wright Studio / Shutterstock)

A new survey has found that a huge number of businesses continue to track customers online without first asking permission. 

A study carried out by CRM Essentials and commissioned by Zoho found that a staggering 62% of US and Canadian companies don’t inform customers that they allow tracking code from third-party services on their websites.

The findings were particularly shocking given that 55% of businesses claimed to have well-defined consumer data privacy policies in place. Given the survey results, which Zoho collected from 1,416 business leaders at companies of varying sizes and industries, third-party ad tracking remains ubiquitous.

Following the tracks

The Zoho survey also found a small discrepancy in the type of businesses that felt it was necessary to inform customers that they were being tracked. While 72% of B2B businesses said that they did not inform customers of their tracking practices, this figure fell to 58% for B2C respondents.

In addition, many businesses appear to be completely content with their lack of transparency. A massive 85% admit that they are aware that third-party code tracks their customers and 68% said they felt they had done a “good” or “satisfactory” job of explaining how they use customer data.

Unfortunately, customer tracking practices will prove difficult to change. As many as 36% of businesses said third-party ad platforms were the primary factor in their ability to meet sales goals. Unless this changes, they are unlikely to alter their data privacy policies.

“User tracking to serve ads has turned into adjunct surveillance, a term we use at Zoho when companies collect data without consumer knowledge,” Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist at Zoho, explained. “This trend started with B2C services, but it’s alarming to see it has carried over to the B2B world, especially given how essential SaaS solutions are for working remotely during the pandemic. If you’re using a free service, you’re paying for it with your data. That includes free B2B software and mobile apps you might be using, and we need companies to be transparent with customers about how they track users.”

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.