This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.
We’ve been hearing for years that if you get something for free, you are the product. But for a lot of people, that adage never really sunk in until the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the company was accused of misusing and failing to secure Facebook data from more than 71 million people.
Before the scandal erupted, Canadians were perhaps complacent about privacy. But, this Google Trends chart shows a stark reversal beginning in March 2018. Now, though interest in Cambridge Analytica has quickly dropped off, searches related to privacy continue to rise.
Privacy and personalization create a double-edged sword. For many people, personalization is what you get when emails and newsletters address you by your first name. Our names have been public information since the day we were named, so we don’t normally feel a huge loss of privacy when someone we don’t know uses that information. And for the 2 BILLION people who use Facebook, the personal data we share on that website, from friends and family to favourite musicians and politicians, is shared under the assumption that it will be safe and secure within the website.
But for early adopters who have plunged head first into all that technology has to offer, the broader application of personalization is the magic that happens with a voice activated home assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or Echo, Apple’s HomePod, or Google Home. When you literally tell a small electronic device such as Alexa to order more slow cooked beef pot roast, personalization of this device means that it recognizes YOUR voice. It knows that you usually buy pot roast from M&M Food Market. It uses your saved credit card numbers and places the order to be delivered to your home after 6pm that day. That instant gratification is the ultimate goal of personalization. And the consequence is the ultimate loss of privacy.
Many of us willingly give up our most personal and risky details to companies and brands, because we love them and believe that the relationship improves our lives. We give those companies our kids’ names and our credit card numbers because it makes things easier and lets us spend our time doing the things we want to do in the way we want to do them.
On the other hand, personalization can sometimes be a less than wonderful thing. Social media games that ask for personal information such as pets’ names, favourite activities, authors, books, and more, probably are used to tell you which celebrity you’re most similar to. But, in some cases, these data are also used to profile your shopping personalities and determine which products and services you could be persuaded to buy. Which isn’t necessarily bad. But in some cases, these data could be used to facilitate serving deliberately slanted or misleading information. As we are discovering from the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.
We need to find a happy medium.
We know that privacy standards, even when very strict and enforced, are not always sufficient to safeguard data. We know that we share too much information with websites we don’t completely trust. We know that laptops get forgotten, lost, and stolen allowing access to files and software that are highly confidential. We know that hackers around the world are actively trying to access private information, whether for fun, status, or malice. Privacy with technology is impossible.
The happy medium lies in giving consumers good options. Companies that are willing to put in the work to earn consumer trust will enjoy long-lasting success. Consumers will reward companies that have a track record of good behaviour, and quick and friendly customer service. Consumers will even reward companies that make the occasional privacy or security mistake as long as the desired and necessary apologies are quick, genuine, and the resolutions are purposeful.
It might cost more to create winning customer service experiences, and build appropriate compromises between personalization and privacy, but the reward is loyal consumers. And nothing is more valuable than that.
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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. SW&A has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them grow their brand, shape corporate culture, build successful innovation, define portfolio strategies, and maximize research ROI. They offer strategic advice, business facilitation, research management, qualitative/quantitative research, and analytics. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Inquire about their services here.
Brand Building in a Digital, Social and Mobile Age Joel Rubinson, Rubinson Partners Inc. #NetGain2015 #MRX
Live blogging from the Net Gain 2015 conference in Toronto, Canada. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.
Brand Building in a Digital, Social and Mobile Age
Joel Rubinson, President and Founder of Rubinson Partners Inc.
- Picture of brand success has to change
- We are no longer in a push word, consumers pull information at their leisure
- We engage in shopping behaviours even when we aren’t really shopping, we are always IN the path to purchase
- Brands must become media
- Starbucks is the best example of a marketer that gets it. 40 million fans on facebook. millions of website visits. millions have downloaded their app. Every interaction generates data they can use, can be used for personalization, to amplify brand communications. They no longer have to pay for every message.
- The rise of math experts in advertising – lift from using math to place advertising is a repeatable success
- Programmatic messaging is key. Think about impressions that are served up one user at a time. marketers goal is serve the most relevant ad at the right price. And this needs to scale.
- Research is missing in action when it comes to math – we lack digital metrics, still rely on survey based tracking, we have a post-mortem mind set, we are failing to change how marketing works
- We must get serious about integrating digital – why isn’t this happening, why are we locked in a survey world
- Our comfort zone is surveys. We know how to construct 20 minute surveys. Our learning zone is the mobile area where we unpack our surveys into smaller pieces.
- The panic zone is digital, we don’t understand it. We must move digital into the comfort zone.
- lets start by just looking at the data, look at page views, look at themes in social media, how big is your brand audience, how many likes on facebook, how many twitter followers, how many newsletter signups. These are unambiguous measures. Look at clicking and sharing and conversions.
- Stop treating social media as a hobby, not specialty projects, not ancillary thing to look at. You must find ways to increase positive word of mouth.
- Do we really need feedback from consumers every single day on attributes they never consider? Can’t social media which is much more organic do this?
- Bring in data that you can’t get from a survey that has action value. Some online panel companies already use a social login called OAuth. Append all the Facebook data to your survey and use it for targeting.
- Data aggregators have lots of profiling information for targeting ads throughout the web which means different people get different ads based on cookies from their browser
- You can also link in frequent shopper data to your survey data.
- You don’t have to guess whether an ad is working. You can run an experiment and serve the ad to one group of people and see the change in group behaviour.
- MR needs to know that brand meaning is done completely different now. People seek out knowledge, digital delivers information in real time. But marketing research hasn’t changed.
- Think digital and do something big. Shift some money into datascience or integration. Conduct in the moment research with smartphones.