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Data Lockers and Other Things That Are Good to Know

Two recent stories shine a bright light on the increasingly powerful role consumers play in data collection, and the part that companies collecting this information need to take in order to create value for these customers.

One intriguing piece, by the Associated Press, involves an ad campaign launched Jan. 17 by Google Inc. The advertisements, appearing in dozens of major newspapers and magazine, as well as on websites and billboards, are designed to help consumers protect their personal information online. Called “Good to Know,” the campaign also spells out the ways websites get to know consumers better, in order to better serve them.

The second story, in AdWeek, regards an increasing awareness among consumers of the value of their personal data. In response, several companies are creating secure places, such as “data lockers,” where consumers can have select information stored and managed. Such lockers also allow consumers to decide how much data they want to share, with whom and for what purposes.

Both of these efforts are evidence that marketers finally get it, in terms of respecting the consumer’s role in data collection and use. While it is true that Google has had to wrestle with some of its own privacy issues, I applaud the company for trying to educate consumers and ensuring they understand the value in sharing personal information. It is basically saying: Information is power, but you have the power to manage the information and the wherewithal to protect yourselves.

The AdWeek piece, meanwhile, verifies that companies are proactively trying to broker relationships with marketers so they can capitalize on the customer’s willingness to share information – as long as the consumer knows he or she will be compensated directly for doing so.

We still have a long way to go. Regulators in the U.S. and abroad are considering limits to how much personal data can be gathered online. Many consumers, meanwhile, have yet to understand the value exchange present in sharing their personal data.

The onus is on us as marketers to make that clear, and to then back it up with action.

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