Data collection – privacy tradeoff

May 9, 2014 by Experian Marketing Services

First published on Marketing Forward Asia Pacific.

This week is Privacy Awareness Week (#PAW2014). I think about Privacy all the time, so it is great to have my twitter feed flooded with the topic and more people paying attention. I especially think about the line between creepy and convenient, a very thin line marketers must be conscious of in the age of Big Data.

I was at a conference recently. You know the kind with the high energy music and sweeping videos that make you excited about “the next big thing”. Yes, it was a marketing conference. This time they were breathless about the scenario of offering personalised service to a retail customer based on facial recognition when they walk into the store. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that this reminds me of Tom Cruise’s experience in Minority Report entering a GAP store “welcome back, how did those assorted tank tops work out for you?” and I think that’s more creepy than convenient.

But then, I regularly submit to scanning at the airport which means I skip the immigration line coming into Australia. I let a computer “recognise” me and in return, I get home faster after a long trip.

So “creepy” is contextual, and whether we are willing to let our data (aka our identity) be exposed depends on two things:

  1. Do we get something of value in return for the exposure
  2. Do we trust the entity collecting the data to use it only for the intended purpose

Facebook has demonstrated that hundreds of millions of people are willing to share some of the most intimate moments of their life with a bunch of geeks in California. Clearly they:

  1. Get: access to social information about people they might not otherwise get (we all love the goss)
  2. Trust: that the geeks in Silicon Valley aren’t doing anything more creepy than putting up targeted ads – and there are these privacy geeks out there keeping them honest when they do stupid things. Those people in conflict regions trust that Facebook won’t turn over their information to the governments they are fighting.

So as marketers, what’s your trust/get tradeoff? When you ask someone to engage with your brand in any channel, they are providing data, and more and more they are aware of this exchange.

The problem is, a lot of people, myself included, don’t trust most corporations that are engaged in marketing activities. How do I know this information isn’t going to be sold to someone else? How do I know if I’m getting onto a mailing list I will never be able to get off?

The good news is, now they should trust you, because it is the law that you tell them whether you will share their data with 3rd parties and they know they can always opt out of lists in the future. The new Privacy Act includes Australian Privacy Principle (APP) 1 requires you to be “Open and Transparent” with the individuals about the purpose of the data collection and use. APP 7 requires easy methods to opt out of all direct marketing channels.

Of course, additional regulation has a cost, but when you’re thinking about how to be compliant, remember that the new Privacy Act helps you with one half of the trust/get tradeoff your prospects are faced with. If anything, you should be educating your customers about the rights granted under the Privacy Act and touting how trustworthy you are with your data handling. Because the more they trust, the more likely they are to engage, and that is the key to long term, profitable customers.

If you would like any assistance in understanding the new guidelines or improving your data quality contact us and we’ll arrange a consultation.

For more information on the changes to the privacy law read our blogs:

The Golden Rule of Privacy: APP1

The Golden Rule of Privacy: APP2

Data Privacy APP3 & APP4 : Be smart about how you collect data!

 Be Reasonable: comply with APP5

Customer centric marketing is privacy centric marketing: APP 6 & 7

Privacy Update: Keep data safe across borders under APP 8

Privacy Act Changes: APP10 is your data relevant

Privacy Act changes: APP11 – what you need to know about keeping your data secure