Marketers gathering data isn’t just a given, it’s a necessity to compete, and brands that haven’t acknowledged this are already behind. There’s no stopping the proliferation of data-collection, but perhaps there’s a way to control it. To ensure that the companies gathering this data are doing so responsibly, controlled by limits set upon the information they can collect, and choices made by the individuals whose data they horde.

Knotch, as is our business, recognizes the value and importance of data. It makes companies competitive and sustainable, while increasing their marketing potential, and helping their messaging be as targeted and relevant as possible. For consumers, data enhances their overall experience. Websites and advertisements are tailored to their likes and dislikes, and detailed algorithms ensure every move they make is made simpler. People are willing to make that trade, information for better experience, as long as the company communicates it properly.

Therein lies a major issue, however. A popular justification of amassing such large swaths of data is that it aids the end user, that it’s beneficial for them to control as much as possible, even if it isn’t all relevant to their business. These companies lose track of what they’re actually using the data for, in place of collecting as much as they can. If a company cannot provide a detailed explanation of what their data is used for, they shouldn’t be in the market at all. It’s irresponsible and dishonest to not have specific goals laid out for all data collected.

We live in a world where data security is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Major data breaches leave every internet user scared of what’s to come next. We know these aren’t flukes of information slipping out, these are targeted attacks. As the world becomes more and more data centric, there exists greater risks that information will be stolen and used to target individuals. These individuals are increasingly powerless as their data proliferates in the digital universe. A commitment to responsible data use, and a framework to support it, is thus absolutely necessary.

The question remains, what does this commitment to responsibility look like? At the end of the day, it returns to treating each consumer as an individual, and applying the golden rule. Don’t allow negative or harmful content to target users, remain extremely discerning with who data is provided to, and always give the individuals the ability to opt out or opt in of all the data of theirs that is collected.

GDPR laid important groundwork for protecting individuals, but it remains a binary solution. As we become more sophisticated, consumers will have the ability to edit exactly which data points of theirs can be collected, traded, and published.

Marketing has always been based on data, but we have more now than ever, and that’s something marketers need to be cognizant of. Though, we have more processing power to manage it properly, and utilize intelligent ways to protect it, and the people it comes from. Individuals feel powerless against giant, faceless data-collecting companies. It’s our responsibility to prove that we deserve their trust.

Nov 18, 2019