Privacy issues in digital world

Privacy issues in digital world

I always get annoyed by a bunch of junk email and bothered by deleting them every day. Sometimes I’ll be happy with the promotions and coupons, but most time I really want to complain about it and cannot help thinking that is it I that need to be blamed for giving email address out or does privacy virtually become an issue calling attention of marketers.

Over the last several years, digital marketing has been the market focus enabling brands to create new ways to find new customers and engage with existing ones. I read an article from talking about Social Selling, which is defined as “a method for gathering intelligence for potential targets and, as a result, turn an Internet user into a customer using social media”. And then it mentioned some ways to monitor customers during a selling cycle on social media, such as monitoring prospect profiles and status or join key customer groups on LinkedIn, following customers and influencers on Twitter or Facebook and paying close attention to what they are saying, who they trust and learn from, and who surrounds them socially as well.

It is obviously that social marketing is now a crucial way to communicate with future clients, changing from one-way conversation to two-way communication and thus, to reach social success. Collecting customer information and tracking their online and offline activities, in a sense, do benefit consumers. The more information a marketer searched about a customer, the better he/she can tailor its products and service, advertising and in-store shopping experience. Company identified their most loyal customers and then can shower them with special attention and customized offers. Unfortunately, regarding to social marketing, I’ll definitely worry about the privacy violation caused by monitoring or tracking action. Take Netflix as an example. It launched a recommendation contest that was later discontinued. Contestants were asked to create individuals’ “taste profiles,” filing out demographic and behavioral data. The data set will include information about contestants’ ages, gender, ZIP codes, genre ratings and previously chosen movies. The team in the lead will be awarded $500,000 after six months, and the leader will get $500,000 after 18 months. This contest was cancelled in May 2010 for a legal issue that it encroached on customers’ privacy with the first contest.

Actually, privacy issues are not restricted to marketing research. Other areas of marketing have also experienced similar problems such as the mishandled credit card payment information, which put customers privacy at risk. The customer privacy issue is likely to become one of the most contentious problems marketers need to encounter in the coming years. If this continues marketers may soon face greater legal limits when conducting business.

Dirk Rients, director of mobile at DDB, said the best way for company to gain information from customers and avoid scaring them away is to be entirely transparent about what data is being collected and how it’s going to be used. For example, Dirk Rients pay a visit to an Apple store to see how in-store tracking is conducted. He was asked to opt-in to location sharing through his Apple Store App, being explicitly told that Apple would track his movement in the store in order to service him better. The App provides him contextual information on Apple products and alerts him when to approach the Genius Bar for appointment. “It has to provide some value,” Dirk Rients said. But the location sharing process would not stop instantly when customers step out of the store and this is also a controversial problem.

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5 thoughts on “Privacy issues in digital world

  1. By tracking users’ browsing history and monitoring customers’ online behaviors, companies indeed can provide their customers a better and more seamless shopping experience. But I am the person who protect self-privacy. So I do think this is a good way for us although this is the trend in the digital world.


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