Marketing and the Ownership of Data

As a marketer, I want it all: your name, address, birth date, shoe size, shopping behavior, search behavior, just everything. I know, I can get it for free with a little extra work. Or I save the work and spend a little money, to buy the data from somebody who collected it.

And what is in it for you?

Nothing. No, I mean, you get all that great marketing that I will direct to your address, email, Facebook account, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Take a step back: who is actually the owner of your data? Generally, there is a big legal border between Europe and the U.S.: in Europe, you are the owner of your data. In the U.S. the collector of data is the owner.

In the past, Europeans did not have to worry:  identity theft was an American issue and when you called someone on a landline, she actually picked up the phone, because she was not worried to be disturbed by the 500th marketing call that evening.

Nowadays, marketers sneak into your life through email, search, social media and any digital platform you want to use for free. That poses regulatory problems, like in the current case of Google vs. The European Union.

A simple model would help: Ownership of your data! How would it work?

No one can use your data without your permission. You can give it away for free or you could sell it. You could limit usage to the one company you sold it to or – for a higher price – allow them to resell it. Google would have to be honest with you: “Do you want to have this search result in exchange for your data or do you want to pay for it?” Big Data Marketing Networks would appear, who tried to buy your data for monetization with ad clients. By not opting in, they would not be able to do business with your data. And so would be nobody else. You could sell your data one by one, or in bulk, asking for different prices. Like stock photos, you could sell your data royalty free or for limited use.

I think it would create a much better situation for the individual who is concerned about her data and for the marketers who would know what they can do and what not.

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