Shim now faces the challenge of steering a fast-growing tech business through uncertain times for data-driven companies. While location tech is a lucrative business that provides crucial insights for brick-and-mortar companies and has yet to hit peak productivity, the industry is also facing concerns of an unprecedented scale about how much it knows about the people who power its insights.
Personalization and privacy seem inherently at odds. After all, media companies such as Facebook act like vacuum hoses for data – collecting much more than they need. That’s problematic in a world where data breaches dominate headlines nearly every week. However, where Facebook and others go low, mobile carriers can go high. In fact, mobile carriers that aim to be media companies have a huge opportunity to respect privacy while providing great personalization in their original content.
So, how can carriers take this high road — that is, deliver personalized content experiences without storing consumers’ personal information? By focusing on the device itself – leveraging local storage and client-side execution (rather than requiring server interaction) to help carriers deliver a personalized experience that is incredibly safe. This allows carriers to implement the industry-changing trend of device-centric discovery (DCD), which makes it easy for subscribers to find news/sports/entertainment/games without having to wade through multiple apps and searches. With DCD, carriers can create personalized content experiences that don’t expose subscribers’ personal data to external privacy risks, and in the process, become mobile media leaders.
For years, digital marketers have paid hand over fist in the digital gold rush for data. Instead of a tangible product, tech companies earn millions in revenue from the data they collect on previous, current, and future digital consumers. But digital marketers seeking to gobble up as much data as they can for their campaigns — while not stopping to consider the source of or methods used to collect it — are taking the wrong approach. The age-old mantra of “quality over quantity” has never been more relevant in online advertising, and marketers must quickly and fully embrace first-party data or risk their digital campaigns (and bottom lines) falling flat.
After 25 years of framing technologies by level of maturity and adoption, the Gartner Hype Cycle has finally placed location intelligence for marketing where it belongs — in the trough of disillusionment. Sounds like a lousy place to be, but it’s actually the opposite. Why? The trough of disillusionment is the stage right before the slope of enlightenment. Let me back up and explain.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are the seeds of a new generation of open platforms and technologies aimed at evolving the platform paradigm to one of transparency, value share, and universal governance representation. Sharing value with users via data revenue share; allowing users access to insights generated about them and their peers and help to understand who is trying to engage with them and why; rev share and benefits for service providers; collaborative governance; and abolition of unilateral platform expulsion or rule changes are just several of the major changes on the table. A whole host of new open platform operating protocols is emerging.
With regulation comes the emergence of new opportunities. The same logic that brought on GDPR will be stateside on January 1, 2020, when the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is put into effect. This legislation will allow California residents more control over their personal data. The objective is simple: provide better consumer protections and enhance the respect of privacy by improving transparency regarding the way companies are using their users’ data.
Jean-Noël Barneron of Herow provides one of the clearest breakdowns of CCPA, going into effect Jan 1, you’ll read.
Privacy has been slipping away from us since before then-CEO of Sun Microsystems Scott McNealy said we had none of it in January 1999. Americans still do not understand how companies use their data. While that is a transparency issue incumbent upon businesses to fix — and legislation will to some degree remedy it — I think it more likely than not that Americans will continue to hand over their data to Amazon for two-day delivery and Google for the sleekness of search. What we typically conceive of as privacy itself — concern about how much of our information companies possess — is not the factor that will turn the tides on company practices and legal standards.
The fact that this was an open practice that at least some consumers simply did not understand they were either opting into or automatically participating in points to calls for greater transparency and regulation. Google says it “fell short” of its “high standards” on the issue, but legislation like Europe’s GDPR, CCPA, and legislation in some 10 other US states indicates those standards may be imposed on tech companies by government agencies going forward.
Recently, a number of high-profile tech firms have been uncovered permitting human employees to access private conversations consumers believed were only processed by AI.
Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa have all been placed in the limelight, and now Facebook has also come under fire for letting human employees access sensitive personal conversations for transcription purposes.
In the case of AI assistants, private conversations are primarily harvested from consumers who own and use their devices directly. However, there is an emerging body of evidence that these technologies are also harvesting secondary persons’ conversations — completely unknown to those individuals.
Digital advertising and marketing have long been positioned as “the future” of advertising. But with the rapid changes in media and information technology of the past two decades, the future has arrived. Google recently promoted the idea that “we’re now in an era where digital marketing is just marketing.” But as the industry advances and as new protective regulations around personal data privacy are introduced, it’s also possible that some of the change could involve relying more on previously established methods. Specifically, it is possible that we are on the verge of a return to contextual advertising as the dominant form of online ads.
Location data firm Factual commissioned a study conducted by the University of Southern California applied psychology master’s program to take the pulse of consumers on data privacy. Unsurprisingly, not all consumers demographic groups share the same levels and types of concern. Here are four major takeaways from the survey of 1,002 smartphone users aged 18 to 65.
As more and more states pass separate privacy regulations into law, we will likely see an increase of noncompliance and fines across the board. Subsequently, we might see more companies begin advocating for the US to develop its own version of GDPR at the federal level in an effort to simplify compliance for companies nationwide.
To stay ahead of the imminent data privacy regulations, companies need to establish a culture of transparency and compliance. Consumers will be more confident in businesses that offer a clear value exchange when asked to share their data, and marketers and publishers will build stronger relationships with users.
It’s that factor, consumer data and Amazon’s vast store of it, that stands out most in Jason Del Rey’s reporting on Recode’s new podcast series, Land of the Giants. Specifically striking is the episode on Alexa, in which Amazon employees openly speculate about a future in which smart microwaves will hook up with Amazon’s growing healthcare ambitions to tell you when it’s time to stop making popcorn and smart countertops will join the intelligent kitchen conversation. As Del Rey notes, Amazon execs talk about this future openly, dropping tidbits about customer obsession along the way and appearing truly unperturbed by the thought that such interventions into our domestic lives may go too far or generate unintended consequences. Optimism for the quality of Amazon products and a fervent belief in the company’s benefit to consumers—without due consideration for products’ risk and would-be limits—seem to pervade the corporate culture.
Using first-party data is a win-win. As marketers, you are fostering an ongoing relationship with your customers and prospects by better communicating and serving them. But there needs to be a strategy and long-term commitment. In a survey of US digital marketers by Advertiser Perceptions and programmatic agency MightyHive, respondents said they were, on average, tapping into just 47% of their company’s first-party data potential. It takes the right strategy and technological infrastructure in place to activate first-party data at scale.
Brave is an example of how privacy-forward digital advertising business models that foreground consumer content can work for all parties. Users are not tracked all over the Web and choose how many ads they would like to see; they will also soon get rewards. In return, advertisers can be sure that the people seeing their advertisements are actually interested in looking at ads, and they can also boost loyalty or reach new customers by offering rewards for ad viewing.
Perhaps most importantly, with GDPR in place for more than a year and CCPA and other state privacy laws in the works, advertisers and platforms are less likely to get sued.
Once upon a time, “getting a Starbucks coupon as you walk by a Starbucks” was the Holy Grail example of the potential power of mobile marketing. With the iPhone turning 12 years old this week, it’s a great time to observe how drastically more sophisticated digital relationships between consumers and brands have gotten thanks to the supercomputers in our pockets.
Mobile is now about building a customer journey and taking patrons to the next level rather than a single, location-based transaction. You hear it a lot: the customer journey reigns supreme, but there’s a good reason for “customer journey” becoming like the Greek chorus in marketing. Consumers are inundated with messages from brands, so marketers need to be judicious about how, when, where, and why they reach out to customers.