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We’ve all been there: you innocently browse social media or search online, and suddenly you see ads for forgotten items in an online shopping cart; for vacation deals you have recently viewed on a travel website; for the great new book you recommended to a colleague at happy hour. And the list continues. Just look at social media and you’ll see users expressing concern about these types of highly targeted ads and even memes on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.
Businesses have a unique opportunity to recognize that the old method of collecting data is no longer appropriate in the eyes of the consumer. In fact, according to a 2021 report from KPMG, 68% of consumers are concerned about the level of data collected by companies. And 40% don’t trust companies at all to use their data ethically. Additionally, in the same KPMG report, executives expressed the following about their data collection processes:
- 29% admitted that the way their companies collect personal information is “sometimes unethical”.
- 33% said consumers should be concerned about how their business uses personal data.
More consumers are opting out
This kind of growing concern prompted a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the US government to propose a bill that would allow users to opt out of targeted ads and sue internet companies that improperly monetize. their data. In anticipation of having to comply with such regulations, some tech titans are already taking steps to improve transparency around data collection.
For example, Apple introduced “App Tracking Transparency” in 2021. This feature, extended to all eligible iPhones, allows users to prevent apps from targeting them for ads – and most people have actually disabled targeting. advertising during the first six months of launch. Moves like this will continue to completely change the game for online ads as we once knew them.
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The heightened awareness of consumers and regulators around data should be alarming for businesses that have traditionally relied on freely taking their customers’ (and potential customers’) information rather than asking permission to do so. If businesses want to continue to benefit from consumer data, it’s high time they started planning for the future of what data collection will be – and should – be.
Some current violators are doing all of the following quietly, without explicitly telling customers or asking for their consent:
- Track online behavior via IP addresses, web browser cookies and device identifiers.
- Audio tracking through built-in microphones in mobile and smart devices.
- Behavioral monitoring through physical security hardware in physical establishments.
Although these methodologies have been used for years, consumers are still not satisfied with the level of information they “give” to organizations simply by visiting their websites, talking about their products, or visiting their storefronts.
In a 2021 consumer privacy survey, 46% of respondents agreed that they are unable to effectively protect their data. A further 76% said it was too difficult for them to understand what was happening with their data and how their information was being used, despite companies claiming to be transparent.
Modern data collection methods
When it comes to modern data collection processes, complete honesty and transparency must be the top priority, otherwise companies will be at a serious disadvantage when attempting to collect consumer preferences.
Gartner forecasts for 2022 and beyond indicate that by 2024, 40% of consumers will mislead behavior tracking metrics to intentionally devalue personal data collected about them, making it difficult to monetize. As Gartner notes, consumers are increasingly aware of the massive amount of data collected about them. In retaliation, they will share information about themselves that is not accurate. This completely defeats the purpose of any targeted marketing campaign, which today’s business tends to rely heavily on.
Additionally, to maintain relevance and keep an accurate pulse on customer preferences, organizations need to fully understand what those preferences are, as well as what drives them and the associated behaviors. Collect meaningful data that serves to cultivate a more personalized experience for customers. For example, PwC found in 2022 that 82% of consumers would share some type of personal data for a better customer experience. This includes birthday and age, sex/gender identity, race/ethnicity, etc.
Transparent and Meaningful Data Collection
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Modern tools that take advantage of the technology consumers already have with them all the time (smartphones) can help businesses ethically collect consumer app, web, and location data to help build a satisfied customer base. and faithful.
One of the biggest challenges companies face is collecting data that makes consumers feel heard while collecting and using it in a reliable way. Collecting data on consumer conditions by putting them in the driver’s seat through surveys or allowing them to opt in or out of location services, for example, will help businesses regain that trust.
If people can’t trust organizations and what they do with their information, data collection will become increasingly difficult over time, creating a big problem for marketing and advertising teams everywhere. sectors. It’s time to admit that collecting transparent and meaningful data is the only way to ensure success now and in the future.
Vardan Kirakosyan is SVP of Research and Strategy for MFour Mobile Research
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