Way back at the beginning, the idea was beguiling. It was disruptive far before the word came into common use.
Emerging digital brands and media would give you extraordinary convenience and value – never-before-imaginable in promise and fact – for free. As in zero. Zilch. Nada.
Well, not exactly. Rather, you would get this tremendous value in exchange for just a little bit of your data. And so was born a golden goose.
Fair deal for all? Deal with the devil? The conversation about this goes back as far as the first deals were struck. When I and my agency helped launch Cars.com, it seemed eminently equitable. Cars.com gives you access to a massive inventory of new and used cars, along with incredibly useful information and tools. You need only give Cars.com access to your behavioral data and maybe some declared registration data, while hardly having to lift a finger. A win-win if ever there was one.
But as digital technology has advanced, and taken greater and greater hold over our lives, and become so seemingly indispensable, we in turn may well have ended up shit’s creek without a paddle.
Data breach after data breach until we almost turn a blind eye. The invasion of individuals’ privacy, corporations’ systems and intellectual property. Governments’ ability to function. Nations’ sovereignty.
Facebook and Cambrigdge Analytica. The Russians and the North Koreans. Equifax and Yahoo. And, and, and. Ugly stuff, and it will get much worse before it gets even a little better.
Now about that golden goose.
Marketers have become reasonably proficient at using customer data in myriad ways – most of all to fuel Modern Marketing’s targetabilty and measurability and increasingly as the conduit to Post-Modern Marketing’s AI-orchestrated 1:1 nirvana. The goose has laid many a golden egg.
But this much is clear, at least to me. The goose may not be dead, but it is in the roasting pan and the heat is being turned higher. #DeleteFacebook and Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony mark an inflection point. The data abusers many once and for all undermine consumer confidence. And as people and businesses decide to keep their data to themselves (with good reason), the data scientists and martech marvels may need to find new lines of work.
We marketers had best stay tuned. Rather, we had best throw our full might behind getting this right. Unless we do, the new digital and data powers we have found will be as cooked as the goose.
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