Marketing was far simpler in the earlier times, with few products in the market; a reasonably functional product supported by mass advertising efforts, easily (relative to current market conditions) got consumer attention and people eventually came around to buy it. And also the products carried a quality based brand value, and in the process companies built loyal customers. But things have changed, with quality becoming pretty much the standard the value is more on personalization. Personalization can happen only when there is information on target consumer base. Marketers need user data that can be processed into usable information.
Data, particularly user’s personal data, is slowly but steadily becoming the new oil, with intelligent processing and mining it can not only be used to make business decisions but can also be monetized. User data helps in creating personalized services, products or solutions. In the earlier times, the only way the marketers acquired user data was through manual surveys and interviews but this all changed with the advent of internet and digitally available data. When user data became easily available, marketers acting like a child in a candy store, went heads on to maximize the use of the available data but in the process used questionable means to acquire them.
Marketers still in the mass marketing mentality took a head on approach to monetize digitally available data. The data was manipulated to either persist the consumer with a product they don’t need or even worse mislead the consumer into actually buying it. This practice became a menace which naturally caused panic among consumers and governments regarding user privacy. There needs to be a balance where the consumers and marketers can exist in harmony – is there a way it can be achieved?
Consumers felt like they are being stalked by robots that track their online activities. It got even weirder with the free email systems where the robot crawlers scanned the emails and popped up advertisements based on keywords present in the email. But still people continue to use them because they were getting a value! Same is applicable for social networks. We can see that people are willingly allowing privacy interference when there is an acceptable reward. With more and more privacy laws being introduced, marketers are being forced into requesting consumer permissions to use the consumer’s personal data.
Unless the users will share their personal data to the marketers there is no easy way around the privacy concerns. So, the question is – Will consumers willingly share data with marketers for a value? And is there even a way to put a value on personal data? I came across a site (http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/what039s-your-personal-data-worth.html) that interestingly assigns a value for pieces of personal information. To overcome privacy and user permissions, and make it easy for the consumer the challenge lies in the ability to make shared information available anonymously at a single location, with the user should having complete control over their personal data – instead of the user sharing personal information to multiple companies creating numerous copies of personal data which would be close to impossible to manage. We can get more sense on this if we read the book “Pull” by David Siegel and “Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin.