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EDITOR’S BLOG 050418 Time for disruptors to shake up the data industry?

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Recession and technology have, together, changed how consumers shop for everything. It has also changed how they respond to marketing – forever shifting how any brand or service reaches out to them. Problem is, most brands and merchants don’t realise this yet.

According to a study by Blis out this week, consumers more than ever understand value: both brand value to them and their own value to brands. And this is very important shift in behaviour. Consumers now know they are of value – and that their data is also valuable. While the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle should surprise no one, it also shows the total disconnect between brands – in this case Facebook – and how they perceive the understanding of their customers and their understanding of their value to the brand.

In short, Facebook treated its own customers like idiots – and it will reap what it has sown.

All other brands out there, however, are so far behind this idea of value that they can all catch up now… but only if they treat people well.

According to the Blis research, consumers now understand that their data is of value, but are only prepared to trade it on their terms – something Facebook really didn’t bother to think about.

And where Facebook has really gone wrong – and were many, many other brands are also erring – is that these new ‘conscious consumers’ are quick to judge, very slow to forgive and operate a strict ‘one strike and you’re out’ approach. So brands have to get things right: they have to use the consumer data wisely, reward them for it and never, ever mess up with it.

If you think this is market research clap trap then look at how many people – me included – have binned Facebook. Not only has social media largely run its course (it is now so boring and laden with clickbait and spam that it really does need to stop), but Facebook has really taken the cake. I don’t really know what it did or didn’t do, but in my mind it has harvested my data, sold it on and allowed Donald Trump and Brexit to triumph. Well, I’ve got to blame someone haven’t I?

While this all makes for good headlines, the question around data and how to use it is a vital one to any business – after all every business does marketing. GDPR and its focus on policing what is done to data should be focussing everyone’s mind on how to make best use of it. The Facebook episode should also be a wake-up call.

Understanding what data you have, what data you need and what you can or can’t do with that data is going to be hugely important going forward. But this does also largely miss the point that consumers are aware that you have their data. They are even happy for you to use it. But how you use it and when is something each is individually precious about.

Knowing what you can do with it verses what they want you to do with it is a big question that, post GDPR, should be the next thing that business ask each other.

Like all industries, the data industry is now ripe for disruption. Facebook is seen as ‘old’ in this world and it has been caught out doing something ‘old’ with its user data. Other, newer companies won’t be so cavalier: they will do this right. And like all disruptors will reap the rewards.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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