Eqtr @ SxSw 2015, Day Two - Contradicting myself already

After lauding the value of Big Data following Day 1 at SxSW 2015, marketing director Martin Jordan gets slightly uneasy when considering how organisations are now gathering valuable intelligence on consumers.......

So, yesterday in my post, I espoused the importance, as marketers, of learning to love data – make sure we take it seriously, invest in it and grow our toolset and skills in gathering it and interpreting it.

Today, I am going to tell you that, as a consumer, there’s lots of horrible marketers out there gathering your data in ways you can’t even begin to understand, and you need to start to think what that means to you!

I heard a number of discussions today about robots – not the Metal Mickey / R2D2 style robots but the software robots that increasingly make up our online journey. I learned about the data frameworks they are capable of building around your behaviours and it got me thinking about what they can do with this information.

We already know how great Amazon’s recommendation algorithm is for making us buy more stuff. We probably don’t really think about what Netflix’s show recommendation bot is learning about us or what Twitter thinks of our ego and personality based on the frequency and content of our tweets.

But we should. Rumours were abound that Uber were using ride pattern behaviour to work out if someone was having an affair. It’s already been touted that Facebook can tell this based again on our behaviours. Right now, neither organisation is visibly doing anything with this data, but they might. Yes, Facebook could start promoting ads for dark glasses or Durex for the philanderer and Uber could offer you taxis with blacked out windows “for some reason” but where else could this go?

Not far right now but we can be sure that won’t last! Data is a valuable commodity and can be bought and sold to marketers to deliver highly relevant targeting opportunities. It can go further when these organisations tie their data pools together and paint a layered picture up of your life. Imagine if there was an organisation which had all your Google intelligence, your Facebook behaviours and your shopping patterns in one place. It’s not hard to imagine and it’s even easier to start thinking about what that means for marketers – and your privacy.

And as we head to a world of biometrics, body scanners, wearables and so on, the volume of data on us just rises and rises.

So we reach a point as consumers when we have to make a choice between complete privacy (if such a thing exists) and complete convenience (also still a bit of a myth). If we’re not ready to decide, we should at least start being more aware that even when we think we’re not sharing data knowingly, we’re doing it unknowingly. Buyer beware!