The Data Debate

By Julie Determann, Account Supervisor

Our TWO Sense: The Data Debate

 

Many consumers ask “Is my data safe?” But that is a tricky question because it depends on what data they are referring to. Data is simply individual pieces of information that make up YOU. And so much of this said data is readily available and/or freely shared online every day. All you need to do is search for it!

Beyond basic contact information: physical address and phone number, a lot of in-depth consumer data exists. There is demographic data, such as: gender, age, religion, race, occupation, and education level. There is life-event data, which contains timely information about recent life changes, such as: marriage, home ownership, child birth and divorce. There is even data on individual people’s hobbies, interests, buying behavior, and communication preferences.

And any and all of this data can be bought for a reasonable prices from data brokers. Data brokers make a living collecting, compiling, and selling different types of segmented data. Now why would anyone care about your individual personal data, you might ask? So they can better understand you, of course!

Marketers most frequently seek out this data to more efficiently communicate and relate to their existing customers and to better identify and target potential customers. Companies such as insurance agencies may use data to assess risk and gage life expectancy. Consumer product companies often use data to support recommendations for additional products their consumers may want. Utilizing data provides companies with additional insight that they may not be able to directly ask or obtain from consumers.

Sometimes it is difficult to identify who is providing, collecting and sharing your data, but most likely it is YOU and the stores you shop at. Data brokers obtain a lot of consumer data from retailers who have store loyalty or credit cards. Other information is captured through online survey responses or sweepstake entries. Information is also gathered from catalog, direct mail and online purchases.  They are even netting information from your social media site visits and posts. This data can then be shared with other companies/brands associated with the company who obtained the data or it can be sold to data brokers who compile it and compare it with other data sources.

Surprisingly, most of this data trading and selling can be done without you even knowing – your permission is not necessarily required. However, there are some limitations, such as: your medical records and your credit-worthiness. Those topics are both confidential. In some cases, data brokers and retailers will provide you the opportunity to “opt-out” of their databases, but it would be impossible to identify all the possible lists your information could be on.

In conclusion, I personally find consumer data sharing to be beneficial not intrusive. I would rather receive solicitations that are relevant to my interests and needs, and I don’t particularly care how a company goes about finding that out. In the long run, it saves me time and efforts…If they come to me, then I do not need to seek them out!

Need help “finding” customers/prospects that match your target audience? Contact me: jdetermann@twochicago.com and I’ll call my data broker! Find this interesting and beneficial? “Like” my blog.

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