Consumers Are Realizing the Value of Their Data. Here’s How Online Marketers Should Respond

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Photo by Chris Ried.

With the adoption of GDPR in 2018 and other similar laws coming into play this year, consumers are hyper-aware of their data and how it’s being used (or misused). With seemingly daily headlines about data misappropriation—in addition to Facebook’s non-stop data breaches—it’s become apparent that consumer data is fueling a new multi-billion dollar industry that hasn’t taken privacy concerns seriously.

With this new awakening, it’s critical for marketers to invest in the right tools and technologies to abide by data-acquisition best practices that are not only compliant with regulations but also ensure consumer trust. According to the IAB Data Center of Excellence, marketers will spend $19.2 billion on third-party audience data this year, as well as the technological solutions to manage and analyze all of it, which means that there’s still plenty of opportunities for marketers to reconfigure their ad strategies.

At Blis, we conducted a study that digs into what extent consumers are starting to see their own behaviors, and predilections, as a currency. What we found is that marketers have a prime opportunity this year to rebuild trust and transparency with consumers.

Embrace the shift in dynamic between the consumer and the company

Consumers are no longer in the dark about their data. According to our study, two in three consumers are more aware of how their personal information is being used today than they were last year. In addition, 83% know that companies actively track their location data.

While the lack of clarity around pending U.S. regulations on data privacy might make brands and marketers nervous, both should take solace in knowing that the average consumer is still open to sharing their data as long as it’s done transparently. Sixty percent of consumers would unveil their personally identifiable information to advertisers, and $10 (the minimum value 57% of respondents place on their identity, which includes age, parental status, education, income, and marital status) is all that could separate a successful marketer and ones that can’t keep up with the demands of the evolved customer.

With this changing dynamic, marketers must be more explicit about what consumer data they utilize and why. Marketers need to motivate consumers to open up by changing their tactics and strategies to be more relevant. Consumers are willing to share their data and in return, marketers must not abuse it and should offer value in return to the consumer.

This comes in the form of advanced-level communications to consumers. Why would consumers want a coupon for a product if they already left the store? Just because a consumer reads health-related content doesn’t mean they go to the gym and are the proper targets for gym ads. Advertisers must apply all of the data consumers are making available in smart ways, and (for us) that starts with understanding their real-world behaviors, combining that with their online behaviors, and applying that knowledge and insight to digital marketing campaigns.

Re-educate yourself on data and its best practices

We’re moving to a world where consumers call the shots, and marketers will fail without them on their side. It’s a slippery slope—even consumers open to marketers accessing and using their data could change their mind if the data is used improperly. In order for marketers to be effective at understanding customer data, they need to instill a sense of trust that they are using it in good faith.

To help paint a picture as to how consumer trust and loyalty will impact marketer’s future audience-targeting abilities, here are a couple more examples:

  • 54 percent of consumers would charge more to a brand they’ve never purchased, which highlights the utter importance for marketers to build meaningful relationships with their consumers or else risk sustaining additional costs.

  • 70 percent of consumers are willing to share their buying habits (specifically competitive purchase history) with Amazon for a discount in their next shopping cart—59% said a 10-30% discount off the next purchase is the sweet spot.

Marketers should ensure their team stays on top of information on the most recent consumer attitudes regarding privacy, and they should direct tech spending towards partners with the best reputations for data privacy.

The backlash against big tech’s misuse of consumer data is fostering the start of a new, data-centric marketplace where consumers are just as involved as companies are in the analysis of data. If marketers can’t embrace data as a new form of currency driving commerce or ignore demands for transparency, the impact to a brand’s bottom line will be felt across industries.

Gil is responsible for driving Blis’ ad sales revenue in the U.S. and has built strategic media and marketing partnerships with leading brands over the past 20 years. Prior to joining Blis, Gil served as Regional Vice President for Thinknear, a location-based mobile competitor in the U.S. Over the course of his career, Gil has worked for both digital media companies such as YuMe as well as professional sports leagues including the National Basketball Association.