As marketers, we believe we have an obligation to produce ads and marketing materials that enhance a customer’s experience, not make them uncomfortable. There are many ways to create an uncomfortable scenario – through inappropriate images, too-intimate messaging or follow up that makes a customer feel stalked. A recent conversation about creepy potential data collection was brought up when one of the partners came back from a fishing expedition (ask Fred about the ribs). The discussion was around geo-retargeting – when a person will get specific banner ads pushed to their mobile device if they are within a very specific area. That conversation evolved into what we allow people to know about us in a larger sense and how we feel about ads being served to us on an individual basis.
There is a large swath of people (80% of Americans) that are concerned about data privacy issues and how the advertising/marketing industry uses and obtains consumer data. We are in essence, our own worst enemies because we are too good at collecting information. But when we do have this data and use it wisely, we see upticks in response rates because we can make offers more personalized and relevant. It’s been proven that response rates increase when a message is more personalized, be it a letter, email, an ad or personal URL (PURL).
These data collection methods have recently come to the forefront of public discussion (partially due to government hearings) of large corporations. With some of those companies (and an entire continent) starting to adjust their privacy laws and policies to protect consumers and be more transparent about what and how information is collected.
Whether you’re in an agency setting or a client setting, we have some decisions to make. Do we continue with business as usual – consumer concerns be damned? Or should we be more transparent on how we collect data and (maybe) we let consumers opt-in and opt-out? It makes sense for those of us in the industry to create clear and transparent rules around data use to make our customers more comfortable. Then we may be able to continue to offer personalized and relevant offers that consumers enjoy.