These days, in the marketing world it seems to be all about big data. Data is needed to establish an accurate list of a brand’s consumers. Data is needed to tie a company’s advertising efforts back to their sales practices in a customer relationship management (CRM) system to their marketing automation platform and determine return on investment (ROI). Data is needed to help businesses reach their target audiences with greater impact. But where does their right to track our behavior to maximize their own profits cease become not only intrusive, but a violation of our most basic rights to privacy.
Sure, data aggregation is nothing new. But when companies start collecting your personal information, often without your knowledge or consent, not only does that pose a substantial public relations (PR) problem but a legal one was well.
Over the last few years, I noticed that if I looked up an item on Amazon.com but never bought it, the next day, it started appearing on my Facebook page as a result of the company selling my personal cookie data to show me the products it feels are of most importance for me as a consumer. From a financial perspective, I have no doubt that it is profitable for Facebook. But are such practices crossing a line regarding privacy and tracking that should not be crossed?
At a digital media conference I attended last week, one of the most lively debates we had concerned privacy issues concerning the usage of consumer data to develop personas to better target a brand’s consumers. Some people saw the development of such personas as harmless. However, others saw it was a clear violation of that consumer’s rights, while one gentleman in attendance saw any use of consumer data for the creation of personas by any organization as both immortal, but illegal as well as discrimination.
While I would not go that far myself, it is a concern that I as both a consumer and a marketer share. There is no clear cut answer regarding this topic, the battle wages on.
So marketers, on what side do you fall? What is your opinion of using consumer data for marketing and research purposes?