Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Data Collection Helps Consumers Too. Do They Know It?

Image: Aaron Walker
It doesn't look like we as marketers are doing enough to show the value of consumer data...to the consumer, that is. Everyone knows what it does for businesses. Data collection and analysis delivers information that helps better decisions get made, whether that is a new product to develop, or how and when to market it and to whom. All of this is aimed at adding revenue through additional sales to new and existing customers.

What is often forgotten is that people actually want to buy things, and they want the marketing messages in front of them to be as relevant as possible. It's the confusion of what is gathered and how it is used that makes them nervous. A big part of this misunderstanding and fear can be blamed on media outlets. As soon as Google's live broadcast about updates to Google+ ended yesterday, websites like Wired.com were already talking about it as nothing more than a trick to get more user data for ads.

Does Google want user data? Of course they do! This should come as no surprise. But, what is ignored in articles like the one published to Wired is the value that this data adds to everyone, including the user that provides their photos and exact location for analysis. The need for data causes better features to be developed, such as Auto Awesome for photos and videos automatically uploaded to Google+ from a mobile device. The use of data (pretty much always analyzed in the aggregate, not at the individual level) allows the right branded content to be delivered to the right person at the right time. This makes it easier for brands to make a sale because relevant material makes it easier for consumers to find what they want to spend money on. And ads, while sometimes annoying or even intrusive, allow all of these great tools like social networks and mobile apps to be free to everyone.

And, let's not pretend that data doesn't help sites like Wired.com too. Better targeted ads mean higher CTR (Click Through Rates) which allows publishers to charge advertisers more to run them. It's a win for everyone. Maybe someone should explain this to the staff writers.

It is time that consumers stop being made to fear the use of their personal data by marketers, and realize that the improved experiences comes out of what is collected. The responsibility to communicate this lies chiefly with marketers themselves to be honest about what they collect, how it is analyzed, and what benefits come from it in the end for businesses and for customers.

For more on the data conversation between marketer and customer, you can read what Julie Bernard, Senior VP at Macy's, had to say at last month's conference in Cincinnati right here. Also, I sat down with Ryan Derrow of Empower MediaMarketing before his session at to touch on the same topic as it relates to digital advertising. Video of our Google Hangout is below.