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10 ways to make data collection less creepy


With the Data Days conference coming up on 1-2 October, Enliken CEO Marc Guldimann explains why "Good Data" collection is an epic win – and that includes for advertisers.

Consumers, governments and marketers are becoming wary of the online advertising industry. Web users are realising that personal information is bought and sold without their permission, and policy-makers are stepping up to defend their constituents’ rights to privacy. Meanwhile, brand managers are still waiting for the promised yields from online behavioural advertising (OBA).

Before resorting to legislation, cookie-blocking or giving up on the potential of OBA altogether, we should consider a simpler solution to the host of issues surrounding data-driven marketing:

Give consumers a seat at the table.

“Good Data” is an alternative strategy to put consumers in control while still allowing the industry to enjoy the efficiencies of targeted advertising. Here are our top ways and reasons to collect Good Data:


The most important aspect of Good Data is that users choose to share willingly. According to a study by PwC, 73 per cent of adults are willing to share data for “benefits [they] get in return”. Eighty per cent of adults will share personal information with a company that “asks upfront and clearly states use”. With the right incentives and a little politeness, spying isn’t necessary.

Broad and Complete

No matter how great its quants are, no company knows more about you than… you. Better data beats better algorithms every time. Good Data is valuable because it comes from you, not from what a website thinks it knows about you.

Less is more

Unfortunately, some people in online advertising think we should collect as much data as possible. Trackers claim hundreds of millions of profiles, each thousands of data points deep. Good Data means collecting the minimum data required to realise a marketing goal and discarding that data as soon as possible.


Internet privacy tools have to be simple or they won't get used. Good Data means people should be entitled to continue to use the web the same way they always have, without having to compromise their privacy.

Advertisers win

What the online ad industry needs to realize is the promise of data-driven marketing unencumbered by regulation. With Good Data, all the important players in the advertising ecosystem stand to gain.

Consumers win

...because they wrest control of their data away from data aggregators. When consumers begin selling the information they are comfortable sharing, marketers lose incentive to buy data from those who gather it surreptitiously through back channels. Consumers also benefit from seeing more relevant advertising and by capturing some of the value of their data when they sell it themselves.

Publishers win

...because their ads generate more revenue. Websites, app developers and content creators will see more demand (and higher prices) for their ad slots as better information about their audience helps marketers target more efficiently.

Advertisers win, again

...from the efficiencies gained by up-to-date and complete data. They now have a 100 per cent opt-in picture that includes search, eCommerce and social – all points of an individual’s digital life. Advertisers can show the same ads without feeling like spies. With opt-in data, advertisers reach customers who understand why they’re seeing a particular ad, not customers wondering how an advertiser knows their interests.

Don't be a trash-rummager

Consider the following "real-life" analogy: a company digs through your trash and says, “Hey! We found an old pair of running shoes. Would you like to buy a new pair?” Pretty intrusive, right? With Good Data that conversation becomes innocuous: “Thanks for telling us about your interest in running, let’s discuss the best shoes for you."

There's only one loser

It's the companies who gather data surreptitiously. Incidentally, they’re the small portion of the marketing industry that creeps people out and gives us all a bad name – no one is going to miss them. Auf Wiedersehen, bad data.

Image credit: Flickr user  Camdiluv ♥

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