Everything, Privacy Included, Has A Price

matthewhauckddtData-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Matthew Hauck, vice president at Datalicious.

Privacy is dead. Technology killed it.

For marketers, you could argue that this has created a utopia that was once only dreamed of.

But people don’t like to think that they are being “tracked” or that they are part of the “big machine.” Data privacy, by its very nature, is an inflammatory topic. Yet we freely give away data about ourselves every single day, often without thought. And I’m not just talking about the stream of consciousness that is social media.

Despite protests to the contrary, the privacy bar is low. Our data is a commodity that we trade each and every single day in return for a better user experience. We value our privacy until we get something better for it.

The US Federal Trade Commission recently announced that it would hold a workshop on privacy issues associated with cross-device targeting. Afterward, I expect the FTC to implement guidelines that will placate some critics. I have no issue with that. The challenge for the ad tech industry, however, is that the FTC is only US-based. There is a similar body in every other country but no global consensus among them.

The US is arguably the world’s largest marketplace, but I question whether the government here is innovating. I don’t see new technologies or ecosystems arising from new guidelines. Instead I see potential roadblocks that could distract marketers from solving customer problems. As a result, consumers could suffer as marketers focus on compliance, rather than the experiences they deliver. Since I don’t foresee a global privacy standard being agreed to in the next decade, I am concerned that rather than moving forward, the industry could stagnate or, worse, go backward.

Consumers’ expectations are at an all-time high. We don’t care if we log into an advertiser’s website via our smartphone, tablet or laptop. The device is simply a means to an end. We want a consistent and easy experience regardless. And if we don’t get one, we’re likely to take to Twitter or Facebook to complain about it. To meet these demands marketers need data. It’s no Catch-22, but neither is it a dynamic that sits comfortably with some people.

A new era is dawning. It’s not being driven by marketers, but by consumers. They hold all the cards and they are dictating how brands engage with them. In many ways, what they’re saying is different from the headlines. Many consumers want marketing to feel like a service, and for each piece of data they hand over, they want to see an incremental increase in the value provided to them.

Marketing is only effective when it adds value and solves a problem. Data is the key to this. Without it, brands are staring down the loaded gun of the Internet and shooting off content in all sorts of random directions. That’s not value. It’s spam. And it’s not want consumers want.

Everything has a price, and privacy’s price is convenience.

Follow Matthew Hauck (@mathauck), Datalicious (@datalicious) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

2 Comments

  1. "Many consumers want marketing to feel like a service, and for each piece of data they hand over, they want to see an incremental increase in the value provided to them." My question here is whether the average consumer really understands that they are "handing over data." Even as someone with interest in online privacy issues, I was shocked when I joined the digital ad industry to learn the extend to which consumer data is being used and collected. Though I completely acknowledge that the example I've given is anecdotal, if the average consumer doesn't understand how advertisers are using data from cookies, mobile device IDs, and even store membership cards, is it really fair to say they are eager/willing to hand over data for a more enjoyable online relationship with a brand?

    Reply
  2. Patrick o'Brien

    "A new era is dawning. It’s not being driven by marketers, but by consumers. They hold all the cards and they are dictating how brands engage with them."
    I don't think this is true at all. Most consumers are completely in the dark about behavioral adverts and tracking.
    Just look at the news today from Europe: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/31/facebook-tracks-all-visitors-breaching-eu-law-report
    Consumers have really not asked for any of this, its a myth that they want a relationship with brands based on ever more granular data about them.
    This is all too shady for most people.

    Reply

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