5 Things '60 Minutes' (Intentionally) Didn't Tell Americans About Data Brokers
Kids, "60 Minutes" is no longer U.S. broadcast journalism at its former best—it's pseudo-infotainment.
The Direct Marketing Association, my editor at Target Marketing, our friends at Direct Marketing News and The Magill Report were spot on with their responses.
Frankly, correspondent Steve Kroft and company had their own point of view that they wanted to report to whip up hysteria, and it wasn't part of any of the data-driven advertising ecosystem that anyone of us practitioners recognize. Bryan Kennedy of Epsilon did yeoman's work: Self-regulation exists because all marketers know that data is the currency of our livelihood, and consumer trust underpins us all.
Here's what I know—that I want every consumer to know—and what CBS and "60 Minutes" should have told its viewers:
1. You Can Opt Out
For decades, Americans have had numerous free ways to "opt-out" of the data-sharing-for-marketing-use marketplace—and millions upon millions of Americans have taken advantage of these free industry-offered programs:
- DMAChoice, offered by DMA, allows industry-wide opt-out of prospect direct mail, email, do-not-call (for selected states) and unaddressed mail delivery.
- Nearly all consumer brands also offer their own preference centers and in-house suppression lists on their Web sites and Privacy Policies—both for do-not-send and for do-not-share, bridging multiple channels. Many business brands also do the same.
- More recently, the Digital Advertising Alliance and its Consumer Choice Page provides an industry-wide opt-out mechanism for targeted display ads online that are served (in a de-identified basis, by the way) based on browsing behavior. Consumers can harden their choices against cookie removal once each opt-out choice is made.
- A similar opt-out mechanism for mobile interest-based advertising from DAA is now in the works.
2. Marketing Data Is Used for Marketing Only
Every code of conduct and every ethics guideline in our business states this clearly. Furthermore, firewalls exist between marketing data (our business's data sources) and individual referential data (information used for private investigation, employment, credit, insurance eligibility). If "60 Minutes"—or a consumer, or anyone else for that matter—has evidence that a marketer or service provider is sharing, renting or selling marketing data for non-marketing uses, the DMA's Committee on Ethical Business Practice would want to be first to know—so as to investigate and bring any organization into compliance. Hypotheticals and inferences are not reality, despite the innuendoes used by Kroft.