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For many businesses, consumer data is an invaluable source of make-or-break marketing insights. But while some enterprises may be in the habit of collecting data without much consumer opposition, there could be changes on the horizon.

For one, a majority of consumers indicate opposition to companies monitoring their online data. To earn consumers' trust, brands need to be more transparent in the way they collect and use consumer data, rather than burying their data practices in fine print. The data-collection process needs to be fair and beneficial to both enterprises and consumers.

Here are five recent news items that suggest looming changes in the way brands and government agencies will approach and regulate data gathering in the near future:

  1. FTC encourages brands to integrate basic privacy principles into big-data analytics.

Many connected devices have no user interface, and consumers may not even realize that the devices they are using are connected, let alone sending data to third parties. Engineers and technologists will have to ensure that connected devices build in privacy from the start, collecting the minimum of data necessary to make a device function, and creating a consumer-friendly dashboard that explains the data the device collects, the uses of the data and who might see the data.

Moving forward, it will be crucial to incorporate transparency, choice, access and other basic privacy principles into big-data analytics. It will require the focused efforts of companies and experimentation by technologists. The result can be a system that respects consumer privacy and engenders consumer trust, allowing big data to reach its full potential to benefit us all. - Julie Brill, a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, on AdAge

Tweet this: #Bigdata analytics should incorporate transparency & #privacy: @JulieBrillFTC's @adage article in @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Some consumers are so concerned about privacy that they purposely give false information to marketers.

New research suggests a culture of growing resistance to sharing such data online, with the vast majority of respondents to a survey by Vision Critical stating that they oppose companies being able to track their internet searches. This figure is further reinforced by the 38 per cent of people who admit that they have purposely given false information to marketersÛ_

As Vision Critical's [Andrew] Grenville says, brands need to look upon the collection of data as a partnership, and go further than simply providing tailored content. "People are quite happy to talk to you and share experiences if they feel they are a partner and there is a discussion going on, but if it is all one- sided and they feel companies just take from them, and that it's not really an open dialogue, there is a sense that it is just theft." - Nicola Smith on MarketingWeek

Tweet this: Can marketers get customers to trust them w/ their #data? Open dialogue is key. See @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Business executives believe that regulation on big-data privacy is imminent.

Laws and regulations surrounding consumer privacy are imminent as companies use technology to track consumer behavior, said Todd Peters, president of Silicon Valley-based ArcSoft, during the FutureM conference in Boston on Thursday.

Company executives at the conference spoke about the future of technology and the inherent privacy concerns that go along with it, noting that lawmakers around the country are taking up the issue. With consumer purchases being tracked and new technologies such as advanced algorithms for facial recognition being invented, executives said it's understandable why consumers may be worried about the privacy implications. - Sara Castellanos in Boston Business Journal

Tweet this: Is #bigdata privacy regulation imminent? Business execs think so. More in this @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Governments are starting to examine the online and offline data-collection practices of brands.

In recent years, marketers have grown more adept at culling consumer data from an array of online and offline sources - including real-estate and motor-vehicle records, consumer surveys, credit-card data and logs of Web visitors' online behavior - to identify the most receptive audiences for their ads.

At a hearing Thursday, a House subcommittee plans to explore the impact of these practices on consumer privacy, and will hear from witnesses including advertising giant WPP, database-marketing company Acxiom, privacy advocates and others. Separately, the Federal Trade Commission, which has taken a more active role in policing online privacy this year, is preparing to take a wider look at data-collection practices at a roundtable meeting in December with representatives of the ad, media and technology industries and consumer groups. - Emily Steel in The Wall Street Journal

Tweet this: US policymakers start to examine offline data-collection practices. What's the #MRX implication? See @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Brands are starting to work with customers to create an open exchange on consumer data.

PSFK Labs' Director, Scott Lachut, tells us "Retailers and brands need to recognize that in today's marketplace, personal information is a new asset class. In the same way that your shoppers will pay for quality so should you. Show your customers that they have your respect by creating an open exchange that demonstrates that they have value beyond a string of 0's and 1's."

As you begin to consider implementing a Data Trading System in your own organization, ask yourself these questions to assess your readiness:

  • Can you become the trusted keeper for data that your customers rely on?
  • How can you empower them to use this data beyond the context of your store or brand?
  • What services can you offer to enable shoppers to further build out the value of the data that they share?
  • How can you reward and thank your customers for sharing their personal information?
  • What data do you want to capture and how will you use it to improve both your backend and consumer-facing operations?
    - PSFK Labs on

Tweet this: Customers will share their data in exchange for transparency & better experiences. See @VisionCritical roundup: #mrx

What do you think are the top issues brands need to address with regards to consumer data? Share your thoughts with us below.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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