How an Obsession With Measuring Can Hurt Businesses
Here's one thing I love about plumbers: whenever I hire one, they stick to the plumbing. Not once has a plumber fixed my kitchen sink, only to follow up with a credit card offer. No teaser rates, no plumber points, no "convenience checks." Not even a customer satisfaction survey. They simply do their job and collect their fee. It makes me wish dealing with larger companies were that simple.
Last week, frog Executive Creative Director Fabio Sergio spoke at NEXT conference, one of the most relevant digital conferences in Europe. The conference gathered more than 1600 delegates from 16 countries on the subject of DATA LOVE. Mining for meaning is Fabio's meme to increase the quality of life in a changing world of personal data.
I recently signed up for 23andme, a genetic testing and DNA ancestry service. Once I set up my account, an intriguing request popped up: Would I like to contribute my genetic information and supplemental survey data to a study called 23andwe? The information would be used for genetics studies, presumably benefitting human health and wellness in general.
In our research on the value of personal data, we found that the average price US consumers would pay to keep their health related information private was $38 per year. However, placing a monetary value on the exchange of personal information may be too limiting -- there may be other reasons for giving up personal information that go beyond money.
Whenever the topic of personal data tracking comes up, there seem to be two distinct sides in the debate: the "outraged" camp and the "who cares?" camp. A few months ago, Michael Arrington made a pretty convincing case for the "who cares?" side:
If you do stuff online, people are tracking it and putting it into a database and trying to sell you stuff based on that. There’s not much you can do about it except not be online. And it’s not all that bad, really, to get ads for diapers when you’re having a baby, or ads for cars when you are looking to buy a car. Life will go on.
The Mobile World Congress is convening in Barcelona this week and the issue of personal data will be a hot topic. In keeping with the international nature of the event, we expanded Tim’s analysis of the US Industry Trust Index to two other geographies – China and India.
In discussions of privacy and personal data, it’s becoming more common to say that people “trade” or “spend” information about themselves in exchange for online services. This metaphor implies that people are actually aware that an exchange is taking place. But are people making a conscious choice to share their information? Are they aware of how easily and often information about them is made available to marketers?
Once we had an idea of what our data was worth, the next question was who we trust with this data. At frog, this is not an academic question. We are working with companies from many different industries who want to offer consumers some sort of service in exchange for information. This is new territory for both consumers and companies. Take the example of Home Automation and Home Energy Management Systems. Here are systems which generate data on whether you play Xbox or watch TV; whether dinner is in the microwave or on the stove; and what time you typically come home (and when you don’t). In short, lots of personal data is produced by smart homes, HEM systems and sensor networks, and when this is combined with other sources such as web browsing history, purchase records, and social-graphs, the resulting consumer insight is deeper than anything we have seen before. Incidentally, I will be presenting a webinar on this topic on Feb 3rd called “Smart Home Opportunity: Balancing Customer Data and Privacy.”
Facebook made privacy headlines yet again last week when they made users’ contact information (phone number and address) available to developers. What can our study tell us about users’ reactions to such a change in policy?
If someone wanted to bid on your personal data, how much would you auction it off for? At frog, we are seeing lots of business models that depend on analyzing data trails (also known as “digital exhaust”) left by all of us as we navigate our way through the connected world. What we want to know is, how much is each piece of information actually worth.
Problems with the Personal Data Economy
A few years ago, my friend Jeff was enjoying a celebratory dinner with his wife and parents at an Italian restaurant in Austin. The waiter stopped by to ask how everyone was enjoying their food.
“It’s fantastic,” Jeff reported. “These truffles? Seriously amazing.”
“Would you like a few more?” the waiter offered.