How much for your data?

New Business & Marketing Manager

Matt Tilling

New Business & Marketing Manager

Posted: 30 November 2016

In 2014, New York artist Risa Puno offered freshly baked cookies in return for highly personal data. Remarkably, the vast majority took her up on her offer. Over half of the cookie-hungry participants actually allowed her to take their picture, even though she was deliberately ambiguous as to what she was going to do with it.

The social experiment highlighted two key things: first, people didn’t know the value of their data. Second, that instant gratification can override the broader implications of handing over this data.

But that was 2014. In the wake of multiple high profile data breaches and increasingly targeted marketing, the consumers of today have become more cautious and more sceptical of how their data will be utilised.

So why do consumers give up data? And what can brands do to persuade those that don’t?

Framing bias, where the benefits of sharing data are communicated upfront and the privacy implications are hidden, is common in customer relationship marketing. We are told that giving data will improve our online experience or speed up delivery, but we’re often not told what exactly this data is used for and, ultimately, whom by. When coupled with the fact that many share for instant gratification, for likes, comments or new purchases, it’s easy to see why there is so much personal data changing hands.

The creepy line

According to a recent survey by KPMG, 55% of respondents decided not to buy something online due to security concerns. In that same survey, 70% of people said they weren’t comfortable with apps having access to their phone data.

There is, then, a clear reluctance to give our personal data. Security of personal data is a major driver for this but the rise of ad blockers also suggests that consumers are aware of exactly what it can be used for. The infamous ‘creepy line’ is often being crossed.

What’s to be done?

Value exchange is nothing new, but making sure that the value a brand provides matches that of the data it collects is challenging.

Some companies, like Datacoup in the US, are offering revenue share, empowering consumers by paying a lump sum for personal details which are then re-sold with the individual’s permission. However, given that the average UK citizen values their data at £20, the £6 from Datacoup will seem increasingly tight if the product ever makes it to the UK.

It is evidence, however, that consumers will want more of a say. Whilst modern day marketing requires ever greater levels of personalisation and relevance, it is inevitable that more consumers will realise the role their data plays in this relationship.

“If a customer knows how the data has been utilised, they can weigh up the value exchange for themselves.”

The answer should lie in total transparency: being absolutely clear not just about what the data has been used for but how it has positively impacted a customer’s engagement with the brand. If a customer knows how the data has been utilised, they can weigh up the value exchange for themselves.

This is the essence of being customer-centric in the modern day marketing environment.


Matt Tilling
New Business & Marketing Manager
@tposmatt