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Data Not Just The New Oil, Also The New Battleground

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Data Not Just The New Oil, Also The New Battleground
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Ever since European Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva made the assertion that “Data is the New Oil” during a conference in 2009, the marketing world has been paying increasing attention to consumer data, discerning in the process whether the Commissioner just created a great sound bite or whether she ushered in the information era in a manner not done before.

Data has always been at the core of the loyalty marketing value proposition for brands that sponsor programs. The fact that so much data has been collected means a great hidden asset has been created. “Hidden” is the the right descriptor, because the asset has been under-utilized and the use of data is one of the three most significant unfulfilled promises of loyalty marketing over its first 25 years. Send me an email if you want to know about all three.

I fully agree with Aimia who, through its spokespersons including Chairman Rupert Duchesne,  has been putting reason behind the assertion over the past year. Data has been identified as a new asset class which can drive shareholder value in the eyes of equity markets, but also can be seen as a liability when viewed through the eyes of consumers concerned for their personal privacy.

Global society has evidenced a tendency to create conflict over live-giving assets. Oil is at the center of political and economic discussions today and alternate currencies are popping up as business people seek to hedge their bets against economic calamity. That’s why I speculate whether data is more than just the new oil and might become the new battleground in political and legislative circles.

The battle for consumer privacy and to regulate data collection and management has been brewing for some time, but just last week, Google and others agreed to comply with a do-not-track button to be embedded in most Web browsers.  The decision was announced as part of  the US President’s push on Congress to implement a “privacy bill of rights” that would put consumers in greater control over what data is collected about them and how it is used. You can read more about the complex nature of this process and how it potentially conflicts with other efforts to create industry standards on data collection in this WSJ article.

This legislation is intended to give protection to consumers over what is collected about them as they surf the web through a built in button on each of the popular web browser platforms. The legislation apparently does not impact what Facebook collects through clicking the “Like” button and you can be sure that more pressure will come to pass legislation that is all encompassing.

It’s interesting to me that as I write this post, I am also reading a fresh conversation on Retail Wire about “survey fatigue”. Visit Retail Wire and join that discussion as it is an interesting one. You can see my comments which I left in the string, but the big take-away is that two forces are moving that challenge online marketers in the near term – consumer protection legislation and consumer weariness with data collection techniques.

As marketers who depend on data to fuel our vehicles, we have to be proactive in understanding the motivations and desires of interested parties (consumers, regulators, politicians) and also continually challenge ourselves to be more efficient in collecting data as well as be better stewards of that which we collect. I know they sound like over-used marketing buzzwords, but we really have to place the relevancy of our request, speed of response, and value exchanged at the core of every communications plan designed to acquire customer data.

It’s better that we demand this of ourselves before it is demanded of us by third parties.


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