Next up in our Ask the Expert series, we hear from Sarah Ilie and Lauren Portell. Sarah and Lauren talk about the internet’s value exchange – what we gain and lose when it’s so easy to share our information. Is convenience hurting or helping us?
The age of connectivity
Today, it’s almost unimaginable to think about how your day-to-day life would look without the convenience of the internet, smartphones, apps, and fitness trackers; the list goes on and on. We live in the age of connectivity. We have the convenience to buy products delivered to our homes on the same day. We can consume content across thousands of platforms. We also have watches or apps that track our health with more granularity than ever before.
The internet’s value exchange
In exchange for this convenience and information, we must share various kinds of data for these transactions and activities to take place. Websites and apps give you the option to “opt-in” and share your data. They also often let you know that they are collecting your data. This can feel like an uncomfortable proposition and an invasion of privacy to many people. What does it mean to opt-in to a website or app’s tracking cookies? What value do we exchange?
What opting-in means for you
Opting-in to cookies means that you are allowing the app or website to track your online activity and collect anonymous data that is aggregated for marketing analytics. The data provides valuable information to understand users better to create better online experiences or offer more useful products and content.
Granting access to “tracking” offers several benefits to users such as a customized, more personal user experience or advertising that is more likely to be relevant. For example, let’s imagine you have recently been using an app or website to plan a camping trip. By sharing your data, the website or app has visibility into what is interesting or useful to you which can lead to related content suggestions (best campsites) or relevant advertising and product recommendations (tents and camping equipment).
It’s important to know that the marketing data collected when you opt-in is extremely valuable. The revenue that advertising generates is often very important to websites and apps because this is how they make money to continue providing content and services to consumers.
Data privacy practices
Privacy concerns regarding how companies and developers use tracking information have risen over the last couple of years and have resulted in additional protection for consumers’ privacy while still allowing companies to improve their products and advertising. One big step in this direction has been simply making people aware that their data is being collected, why it’s being collected, and providing users with the option to share this data for marketing analytics through opting-in or not.
Other important steps to maintain online privacy include formal legal legislation and self-regulation. The right to privacy is protected by more than 600 laws between individual states and federal legislation and the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce recently voted to pass the American Data Privacy and Protection Act. Additionally, marketing organizations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Association of National Advertisers regulate themselves with codes of conduct and standards given there is so much attention on privacy issues.
Is the internet’s value exchange worth it?
The data that we choose to share by opting-in has a lot of benefits for us as consumers. There are laws in place to protect our data and privacy. Of course, it’s important to be aware that data is collected and used for marketing purposes, but it’s also reasonable to share a certain amount of data that translates into benefits for you as well.
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