Many years ago when we entered the “Information Age” of marketing (not quite as long ago as the stone age…), I remember having a heated discussion about what marketers were collecting. I tried to explain the odds of someone accessing a huge marketing database only to try to find your darkest secrets…like…what magazines you read? What car you drive? Why would you care? I asked. Further, I said, it actually ensures that you get fewer pieces of “junk mail” because marketers will know your preferences.
Fast forward to present day and the argument generally hasn’t changed, nor has the sensitivity of information collected by online databases. The more we trust the details of our lives to remote servers and tools, the more we need to trust that nobody is attempting to obtain more than “accepted” information.
As marketers, we rely on information that is collected and aggregated from our search engines and other online media services. Yet we must acknowledge that as our thirst for actionable information grows, we must also recognize the need for privacy protection for online activities.
While overzealous privacy guards are usually considered to impact only a small percentage of users, consider that USA Today recently published an article with information on How to Fly Under the Radar Online. This and other articles point out the tools that are coming online in order to help individuals retain anonymity online.
It is not a threat to information gathering that marketers and businesses use that is a concern, but rather the idea that without ethical use of information, we run the risk of losing access.
It is up to businesses and media to make sure that we are using information responsibly and to maintain awareness of how we are collecting and using our own customers’ information.