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Letting Consumers Manage Their Marketing Preferences—Aha!

Last week Acxiom announced a new project titled Aboutthedata.com, which allows individual consumers to view publically available marketing data that exists about them and their preferences. This project speaks not only to the evolution of consumers and personal preferences, but the evolution of marketing, as well. I wanted to provide some insight into how the digital marketer of today might view this new concept—both as a consumer and a marketer.

To the consumer

To the individual, a Web portal that contains all of your consumer data (note I term it consumer data, not personal data) might be a bit scary or creepy. This portal contains data that has been classified as follows: characteristic (age, gender, race), home (purchase data, value), vehicle (make, model), economic (salary ranges based on title, credit), shopping (generic preferences), household interests (hobbies). That’s a lot of information at the individual level. But it’s not any sort of data that can’t be gathered off publically available sites. Having it all in one spot and at a company’s marketing department fingertips might be the frightening part. As a marketer, I view this project as the beginning of the end of outbound mass marketing. Whatever you call it—mass blast, spray and pray, spam, or junk mail—it’s annoying and it’s time for it to stop. I look forward to the day when every company starts using data like this, and the offers that are not anticipated, relevant, and personal are gone.

To the marketer

To the person who lives and breathes this stuff day in and out, this a dream come true. I applaud Acxiom because it has taken the initiative to provide a single stop for this data. This Web portal, I believe, will replace third-party data sources that companies are paying for today. It will do this because it is so comprehensive in nature, and so easy to navigate. Plus, by allowing access to this data via Web portal, Acxiom is enabling individual consumers to go in and edit their preferences. If they aren’t interested in receiving offers for cat food and stereo equipment, they can tell every brand that uses Acxiom’s aggregated data this very fact. This in turn creates two things: more applicable data and a marketing message to a segment of one.

More applicable data

All marketers have heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”—which translates to, if your data is bad, the results of your marketing campaign will be bad, as well. Acxiom takes a bold step forward in helping companies make their consumer data “less bad,” thus providing campaign designers more applicable selection criteria. This translates into better segmentation, which translates into more effective marketing campaigns. In the past, marketers did a lot of campaigning at the household level, and now—with Acxiom’s Abouthedata portal—marketers can get down to the individual level much more easily.

A marketing message to the segment of one

As event-driven marketing continues to evolve, consumers now anticipate a marketing message that is extremely relevant and personalized. It’s obviously difficult to do that when you don’t have the needed data about your consumers to deliver this style of marketing offer. Acxiom has begun the journey of aggregating publically available consumer data, but it’s up to consumers now to deliver the rest by rounding out the data that brands have about them.

So what’s the net-net? After this style of consumer data access and sharing is embraced—which I think it will be—companies are going to be able to take data-driven marketing to the next level. Imagine a world where this type of data can be combined with behavioral customer-level data from brand touchpoints (POS, Web, contact center). There will be no excuse for ever sending a piece of junk mail or irrelevant email again.

Jonathan Moran is a product marketing manager at SAS.

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