Users Are Getting Screwed

How much longer will users tolerate having their data mined?
 
It’s such a one-way relationship, it’s only a matter of time before they put their foot down.

Let’s think about it for a second – users provide personal data (often unknowingly) to Facebook, Google and other third parties. Everything is tracked. Every time you post a status update. Every time you check-in. Every time you enable GPS on your phone.
 
So what is the user REALLY getting in return for all this valuable data? Facebook and marketers will tell you “more personalised, contextual features and adverts that add value to the user’s life”.
 
This seems a little too abstract for me. I want to know the tangible rewards the user is receiving for making these platforms, advertisers and businesses billions of $$$?
 
When users are valuing 1 minute of brand engagement at $11, does contextual targeting really meet these expectations? Here is what they are currently getting:
  • Tracked with pixels that stalk them with irrelevant retargeting ads
  • Significant internet data consumed for engaging with rich-media branded content
Seems like a bit of a disparity, right?
 
It’s no wonder ad-blocking is surging. Users are tiring of this abusive relationship.
 
Where is it all going?
 
User attention will become more valuable due to the oversaturation of branded offers across channels. The best marketers will begin rewarding users for their attention.
 
Instead of interrupting an experience, a user will be asked if he/she would like 50MB of data credit for watching a video that matches their interests. If a user chooses to decline, the particular ad offer will no longer be presented. AI will make these offers more relevant and tempting based on past behaviour. 
 
The next couple of years will see more money is syphoned away from traditional media (TV/Billboards/Print) into digital. I’m an eternal optimist so I’m hoping the big brands will see the trends and adjust their thinking away from interruption-based marketing. But if I had to bet; I’d say this was wishful thinking. Brands will most likely treat digital as an extension to TV – resulting in a bad bad user-experience, and likely poor ROI.
Brands need understand the biggest barrier to engagement is a lack of value provided to the user.
 
When I visit a news site on the go, the last thing I want is an interstitial video-ad of a 4WD climbing a hill. I could think of at least 1000 things I’d rather spend my 50MB on thank you Nissan!
 
If on the other hand, I was low on credit and offered bonus data to watch a video ad based on a recent event I attended – I would be much more likely to pay attention to the ad.
 
Data is like an axe – it is a tool that can be used for good or evil! Brands can either be explicit about how they are using data to enhance the user experience and provide greater value. Or, they can sell on your user data to third parties and have the terms buried in your privacy policy.
 
Leading brands and platforms will embrace transparency about how they will leverage personal data. They will also be 100% permission-based and provide users with control over which specific data fields they wish to provideThis doesn’t just make ethical sense, but also financial sense. Brands that adopt this approach will come out on top in the long-term.

Author: Allan Manuel

Allan is a Digital Marketing Consultant who specialises in startups and also happens to be passionate about helping others find meaningful work. Allan is CMO of Topme -- a prepaid mobile top-up application and loyalty program. Get in touch with Allan here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *