You know all those year-end reports and specials you hear on public radio where broadcast journalists and analysts talk about what was popular and trendy in the passing year and what will be the buzz for the coming year?
Well, over the past holiday season there were a couple tips that piqued my interest in what to look for in 2012, and one of them was about access to and control of privacy and personal information.
It’s a topic I personally have written on this past year and that others on this blog of written on as well.
There are many sides of the coin to the issue that in the end the consumer will almost always be the one that is harmed the most while receiving the worst of the benefits. By harmed I mean that the consumer is exposed to the greatest risk.
Take for example Facebook which although the user benefits are great, the exploitation of your personal information is ramped.
Did you know that when you log on to your Facebook account you are literally giving Facebook permission to associate all of your recent online whereabouts, searches, and whatnot, i.e. your behavioral information, with your identity information?
We wrote about these types of data more extensively back in November in the article titled As Tracking Technology Advances, Anonymous Does Not Mean Private Anymore so I won’t get into more details about it here, but understanding the difference between anonymous data and identity data is important so that you can be better equipped and in control of what you share about yourself and your family and with whom.
Identity data is information specific to you, e.g. your name, contact information, demographic info, etc. Behavioral information, also known as anonymous data, is information about you as an object or statistic.
Sharing generic information about you is not really of concern here. From an advertising standpoint this type of sharing is good. I think most of us would agree that we would rather see advertisements for products we want as opposed to ones we don’t. Advertisers have for decades performed studies and purchased anonymous data in effort to serve up more relevant ads to you on TV, radio, and in print.
Sharing of personal information can also be good.
For instance, at HookLogic shopper information is collected (with permission) and monitored to better determine where and when you are likely to make a purchase for something as simple as a piece of clothing to something more significant like say an automobile.
Some people may take issue with use of data like this but fact of the matter is that this shopper information is not being shared with (let alone sold to) other entities that would use it for their own commerce needs.
Back to the original point…
Control of your personal contact information online I see as becoming one of the leading concerns over the next 3 to 5 or even 10+ years.
By control what I mean is that commerce sites must find a way to connect shoppers with retailers in ways where the shoppers’ personal information does not have to be shared but where the advertising and merchandising shoppers experience on these sites is even more relevant and personalized.
Unlike the home-based businesses that sound too good to be true, this concept of shopping is not. We are already seeing it in sites such as AutoConverse.com where auto shoppers can collaborate with automotive merchants and never give up personal contact info, and sites like this are beginning to surface in various ways, shapes, and forms.
Most social media sites offer communication tools that do not require you to share personal info with other users. But commerce sites are not there yet. They are still cul-de-sacs that require you to fork over that valuable digital thumbprint if you want to do business with them.