Privacy in the Age of Big Data
Consumers reveal more than ever before consciously through social media and, just as importantly, unconsciously through their behaviors. This data gives marketers great power, which they can use to design better products, hone messages and, most importantly, sell more by providing consumers what they want. That's all good from a marketer's perspective, but for consumers, the scope of data collection can often cross a line, becoming too intrusive or too loosely held. Marketers have to balance the opportunities of Big Data with the concerns of consumers or they risk a serious backlash.
For some people, the line has already been crossed. When Edward Snowden revealed information about the government's data collection policies, he presented it as a scandal. But, in many ways, what the NSA does differs mainly in scope from what many private marketers do. A German politician recently went to court to force T-Mobile to release the full amount of metadata that it collects from his cellphone behavior. The results highlighted just how much a company can know from this data—not just about an individual's behavior and interests, but also about his or her friends, and whom among them are most influential. Even for marketers who strongly believe in the social utility that this enables, it highlights just how core an issue privacy has become.
So how can marketers get the most from data without alarming consumers? Transparency and value. For some consumers, there's really no good use of personal data, so opt-outs have to be clear and easy to use. The best way to collect and use data is if the value to the consumer is so clear that he or she will opt in to a program.
One company that has framed its data collection as a service that's worth joining is Waze, which Google recently bought for over a billion dollars. Google beat out rivals Facebook and Apple because high-quality maps are one of the most important infrastructure tools for the big mobile players. Well, before Google bought the company, CEO David Bardin said, "Waze relies on the wisdom of crowds: We haven't spent billions of dollars a year, we've cooperated with millions of users. Google is the No. 1 player. But, a few years out, there's no excuse that we wouldn't pass them."
Yblog identifies emerging trends in the fast-changing landscape of media and marketing and finds fun and often surprising connections—with real-time implications for direct marketers.
Yory Wurmser currently writes and consults on marketing and media trends for clients interested in innovating through new media and the data it produces. This is an extension of what he did for six years at the Direct Marketing Association, ultimately as the head of the Research Department. As director of marketing and media insights, he revamped DMA's publications to focus more on digital media and developed partnerships with leading research companies, including Econsultancy, Ipsos and Winterberry Group. He also developed internal strategic research and recommendations to help DMA adapt to the new marketing world. Prior to DMA, Wurmser ran a boutique management consulting and coaching firm and, in an earlier lifetime, earned a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University. He lives near New York City with his wife and three daughters.
Reach him at Ywurmser@gmail.com.