Is Marketing Getting Too Personal?

Last week, at HIMSS we learned how the dream of personalized media is evolving into reality. Beyond the security issues around our personal health data and DNA, hackers have been very adept at exploiting our personal financial data and even our identities.

With all the news about security breaches, its easy to recognize how valuable data is these days, and also how personal. We have learned the hard way that when we fill out fun questionnaires on Facebook, that suddenly we may get targeted political ads from people with bad intentions. Or like how every move we make online just allows internet marketers to add to their mountain of profile data.

There is a very dark side to the manipulation of our personal data, but there is also a bright side. Like when the Netflix or Amazon algorithms actually nail what you want to watch or buy next and are actually relevant in the moment. Travel is the most acceptable intrusion, where practical messages about your flight and your hotel room that actually provide discounts or solid information.

Here’s an interesting experiment. Try browsing using an incognito window sometime and compare it to your usual desktop browser. You’ll see that your favorite browser profile is much more productive and it’s easier to find what you want.

The concept of personalization has been around for a while, but there were limits because of technology. Now the technology has arrived, along with clever social media quizzes and games designed to make us volunteer personalized private information about ourselves, but also our psychology, what makes us tick. When a marketer finds your need, they can also sell you a want.

What you choose to volunteer about yourself online is your choice. But the disclosure isn’t always transparent. You may be giving away more than you know. If this results in you finding the right movie on Amazon Prime without putting a lot of research into it, that’s a win, but if you find yourself looking at a credit card statement wondering why you bought all this stuff you didn’t need, then maybe it isn’t. Any thoughts, questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you.