There is no innocent endeavor online.
We cannot search and click without some entity watching us and taking notes. Lots and lots of notes that they store and analyze, all in the hope of knowing us better — in some cases, better than we know ourselves. Where and when do we gather our news and information and via which devices? What websites do we frequent for shopping and entertainment and for what stretches of time? Who do we follow? Who do we trust? How do we conduct our lives?
Our information has become the raison d’être of marketing. Know your customer online and you unlock the key to engaging them, with Google and Facebook as the world’s leading brokers of information.
The internet giants offer seemingly unlimited quantities of personal data to the right buyers, enabling them to see what content and offers are resonating with them and what aren’t. Google counts more than one billion users and over a trillion searches a year, while Facebook has more than two billion users or nearly a quarter of the world’s population. These groups represent a huge swathe of the global consumer market. Advertisers’ quest to understand their consumers has fueled demand for data, a trend that is likely to increase as more companies rely on digital marketing to drive growth.
But this trend has also raised concerns around the natural conflict between personal privacy and how businesses gather and use information. Even if someone can peer into our lives, to what degree should they be able to commoditize their findings? Or is there an approach that can ensure the business world gets what it needs to make smarter marketing decisions without sacrificing consumer information?
This issue resonated louder than ever last year amidst a flurry of high-profile cybersecurity breaches that raised questions about how Facebook and others are handling our information.
Perhaps most alarming: Facebook’s response to its problems was often less than repentant, according to a New York Times article. Despite their insistence to the contrary, C-suite conversations raised deeply-held concerns that companies mishandling our information don’t care.
A Guardian story highlighted Facebook and Google’s intrusiveness. The article found that Google was not only tracking searches and deleted searches, but had access to personal photos, emails and knew where users were throughout the day. Their advertising profiles extended beyond demographic data to include hobbies and interests and even weight. Facebook could take control of your webcam and microphone while it monitored user likes and other actions.
Facebook’s perch as arguably the world’s most important platform for communication gives it access to massive amounts of relevant data about its users. It is this information that companies are willing to pay for as they look for the clearest possible picture of their customers’ interests.
A strong predictor of what a consumer is likely to favor in the future is tracking the purchases they made in the past. This makes data collected by credit card companies a treasure trove.
But what if someone could collect this information without the downside?
The blockchain-based company AMARK believes it has a solution. It addresses companies’ huge appetite for data but also consumers’ demand for anonymity. AMARK uses blockchain encrypted information in combination with merchant data to determine consumer preferences without knowing or ever revealing the identity of consumers.
Credit cards and other electronic payment systems cannot provide this anonymity. Moreover, by protecting an individual’s personal information, AMARK removes an obstacle to a consumer’s response to marketing initiatives and builds the bond between brands and consumers. AMARK helps businesses make use of data while heading off consumers’ high anxiety over data privacy.
For more information visit amark.io