Big brother and marketing ROI

Big brother is watching

Know where the line is between user privacy and data collection.

Digital ushered in the era of data collection.  For aviation marketers, digital offers big data and unlimited possibilities for ways to track advertising and marketing effectiveness. The “C” suite demanded accountability for marketing funds and data houses responded by monitoring and tracking click-throughs, websites visited, time on page, and time of day, basically offering a very specific connect-the-dots profile of our web usage. Cookies were placed on our machines without our permission and we naively accepted that corporations would do the right thing with our personal data. Big data houses claimed that did not track our names but tracked the IP addresses, as if there’s no correlation.

Unfortunately, it did not quite work out like we planned. Now we come to find out that data mining companies have been selling out web browsing habits to advertisers so they may offer up specific banner ads or offers based on our browsing profile, credit score, and brand preferences.

Web privacy groups lobbied for more transparency, and software providers responded with better and easier controls to track cookies that gathered our information. After all, it’s just one little pixel bobbing around in a sea of screens.

But now we’re discovering that the Federal Government also has an interest in our browsing habits, emails, phone calls, and everything else digital, and stores this content for connect-the-dots referencing. Should this surprise us? Of course not!

During all of the news coverage following this revelation the advertising community has been very quiet. In fact, it’s embarrassing that agency  holding companies, trade associations and digital advertising networks, have said almost nothing about data collection.

The advertising community probably has done more to promote behavioral targeting in the name of more effective advertising that any other group on the planet.

Which leads us to a very interesting internet privacy case of Harris vs. comScore’s  class action lawsuit. The suit centers on comScore’s practice of bundling its monitoring software into third party downloads such as free screen savers. The plaintiffs contend that comScore did not provide adequate notice that when the downloaded free third party software was installed, it also monitored the users’ email and browser habits and sent that information to comScore, which in turn sold it to advertisers.

You could look at this two ways; one being a fight for internet privacy, and the second  how comScore tried to monitor users’ internet habits and email without users’ consent.  Why is this a big deal? Because our personal data drives internet advertising. To put in a monetary context, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Internet Advertising revenues total $36.57 billion in 2012, a 15% increase over the previous year.

Now with mobile on the rise, geo-location tracking opens up even more real estate for internet privacy issues. Just think about the amount of information you are providing through apps and social networks every time you pick up your smart phone or tablet.

In conclusion, aviation marketers need to pay special attention to the privacy rights of their customers while balancing the perceived needs for more marketing ROI data.

Additional articles your may find of interest on this topic:

Determining Advertising Return On Investment (AROI) for Aviation Marketing

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Aviation Marketing: Measuring Digital Display Advertising ROI

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