Some interesting new research from Adobe once again drives home the importance of being open and respecting consumer privacy when it comes to marketing intelligence.
After surveying 8,750 consumers from the US, EU and APAC (Asia-Pacific), it's clear that people are becoming increasingly concerned with the many and growing number of tracking tools targeted at them (see figures above). Here, aggressive digital advertisers are often the guiltiest in pushing the envelope the hardest, but many other companies are silently collecting data (beyond normal analytics), hoping or assuming that the average person either doesn't care or remains ignorant to the goings on beneath their browser's and device's front-end interface.
Two areas of concern that particularly stand out in this survey relate to how data is collected and what happens with it afterwards:
At what point does collection of personal information cross the line from customization to invasion of privacy?
When the information is collected without my knowing it: 79%
When the information is shared with third parties: 74%
With rising awareness of privacy issues, the companies that are lacking in data ethics will only have themselves to blame if, or rather when, they suffer the negative consequences of ignoring such concerns. What marketers and advertisers don't want is to get into a technological arms race over privacy (and its circumvention), as this is one fight that they will ultimately lose and which will leave both sides worse off; Consumers who want customisation and improved services will find it harder to get, and on the other side of the fence, companies will know less about their customers and find it harder to reach the very people that would benefit from their products and services.
Reputation is incredibly fragile in today's world - a few tweets and posts here and there about how you don't respect people's privacy, can rapidly spread and easily drive potential and existing customers away. Only by respecting people and their personal boundaries can businesses ensure that their hunger for data doesn't get the better of them.
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