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The W3C is the global body setting standards for the web.  In the past its helped to codify vital online standards such as HTML and CSS but its yet to tackle the issue of the many different types of marketing data that websites now produce and manage.  

This is now set to change with the introduction later this year of a new digital data standard that has the potential to revolutionise the way that every website handles marketing data.

It promises to massively simplify the process of rolling out new marketing, analytics and personalisation technologies, but what do site owners need to do to be ready for this revolution?

The ‘Customer Experience Digital Data Acquisition’ standard aims to create a standardised data model for behavioural information about website visitors.  

At the moment, every technology ingests and outputs this information in a dizzying array for different formats. This means that every time a site owner wants to deploy a new technology on their site, they have to build a bespoke set of data interfaces to make it work.

The new standard will remove this unnecessary complexity. By unifying the language that marketing, analytics and personalisation tools all use, the deployment of new technologies should become a plug and play affair.  

However, to take advantage of this new simplicity, site owners need to take a few basic steps to get prepared:

Audit your technologies

The first step is to look at your existing technologies and see what your data requirements are, in this way you can easily see where a standardised data model will help you increase site efficiency.

Implement when you re-platform or add a data rich technology such as web analytics to your website

A major shift in data handling like this is best managed as part of a broader project, ideally when you’re in the process of re-platforming or migrating to a new web analytics provider.

If you can get the new standard into the spec for the new platform or a new analytics implementation then you can ensure that its going to be integrated from the ground up.

Make it part of your procurement process

When you’re procuring any new technologies, whether it’s remarketing or web apps, ask the vendor to conform to the standard before implementation, ensuring that you don’t have to re-do the work over again.

Implement in full

You should look to implement the full standard from day one, even if you don’t need it all.  This will future proof your site as new technologies will inevitably require more data to help optimise your website.

Use a tag management system

By implementing a TMS on top of the digital data standard you can make it quick and easy to deploy new third party tags, reducing technology implementation times from days down to minutes.  

Of course, your TMS vendor must also be W3C Digital Data compliant.

With backing from the W3C, as well as technology and retail giants such as Google, Adobe, Accenture and Best Buy (not forgetting Qubit!), the digital data standard will, hopefully, become ubiquitous over time.  

However, its advantages are undeniable so the quicker you can get on board, the faster you’ll be reaping the benefits.

Ian McCaig

Published 26 September, 2013 by Ian McCaig

Ian McCaig is Founder at Qubit and a contributor to Econsultancy.

29 more posts from this author

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