Reality hits the on-line world: or is it just maturity?

Despite the “Walmart effect” of consumers going on-line for bargains as the recession deepens, Google saw a fall in the number of US users “clicking through” to advertisments in Quarter 2, compared to Quarter 1. This was said to be an effect of economic gloom but I suspect it is more a sign that users are becoming reluctant to click on what they do not know and are migrating from browsing to social networking.    

This has interesting implications, as does the reality check that recession causes conusmers, as ell as business users, to undertake. 

One of the ISPs that I use recently sent be a newsletter by snail mail (it knows how few users now click on anything sent electronically) in which it said those over 90% of the e-mail it receives is spam – hence their need for regular equipment upgrades. This simple fact also lies behind changing attitudes towards co-operation against the “dark side of the net”.

From the cost of servers and bandwidth to carry spam, piracy and denial of service attacks, through the cost of filtering, to the risk of paying customers migrating elsewhere, the reasons for main board directors, including those for finance and marketing, to support active co-operation against those causing the problems have grown sharply this spring.

Last week, after teh UK Interent Governance Forum, the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP sent out invitations to participate in the launch of the E-Crime reduction Partnership and actively co-operate with partners, competitors and with law enforcement. I was tasked to follow up with details of the EURIM programme to support the creation of that partnership. The immediate response has been surprisingly positive. Attitudes have indeed changed over the past year.

It is no longer “just” a matter of “information security” and awareness campaigns to encourage consumers to install anti-virus and a firewall. Fear of e-Crime and malware is now hitting revenue and profitability. Whether or not losses are rising, the fear is doing so..

A time of recession is also a time of arson and fraud – albeit that includes the unravelling of past frauds as organisation seek to cut overheads and discover where their profits went. Today most fraud is computer assisted and entails the falsification or destruction (including arson) of  computer records.

It is also a time when advance fee fraud is at its cruellest – not “you have won the lottery” e-mails – but “repair your credit”, “refinance your mortgage” and so on.

Those wishing to survive recession by retaining profitable, paying customers and winning new ones have to adapt to a world where customer service is again king. That also means finding  ways of listening to customers in a world where they no longer click on what they do not know or trust.

Hence the temptation to “phorm“. Hence also one of the reasons I retain accounts with the ISP that sent me the paper newsletter. They have assurred customers they will not knowingly allow “phorming” over their services. Attitudes like that, plus their quality of service, is why I am happy to contunue to pay them for what which others supply me free, – whether as part of my broadband packages or paid for by selling my traffic profile to I know not who. 


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