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Three Questions for Experian’s New VP of Digital

Experian Marketing Services this week named Jay Stocki to lead innovation and business development of advertising products as VP of digital services. A longtime digital strategy consultant, and veteran of such companies as Yahoo! and Accenture, Stocki is a firm believer in the merits of data-driven campaigns for consumers, as well as marketers. He took some time from his first week on the job to answer a few questions for us on the topic:

How would business as usual be interrupted if digital marketers were forced to obtain opt-ins for nearly every customer interaction?

We have seen one example of how that scenario might play out with the cookie law passed in the U.K. in 2011 that stated that companies operating in the European Union and the U.K. must obtain the consent from its website users. Many businesses blatantly ignored it, and many consumers found it perplexing and annoying on sites where the law was followed. At best, forcing every cookie to be opt-in creates a disjointed flow for the consumer. At worst, it causes confusion, frustration, and loss of users. An overly restrictive opt-in would hamper, and potentially crumble, one of the basic underpinnings of the Internet. So much of the content that consumers value is driven by targeted advertising. Not every site can be successful with a paywall. Data is a currency and a catalyst that makes today’s Internet possible.

Name some things enabled by use of personal data that we perhaps take for granted.

Consumers used to be limited to the businesses within driving distance, but today they can easily seek out deals and promotions across the globe. Consumers make daily choices about how to spend their money among countless companies, products, and services.

Without data-driven marketing, every Internet session would be filled with spam-like offers that are often confusing, of little interest, and might often be downright annoying. But companies use data responsibly to reach the customers that are most interested in and most likely to purchase their products. This creates efficiencies, promotes competition, and ultimately drives down prices.

Finally, who doesn’t use personal data? Doesn’t every consumer who plies Facebook or has a side business selling stuff on eBay or Google engage in the data-driven economy?

Yes, consumers engage in a data-driven economy through their every interaction with a website or mobile app. They do so willingly and in many cases with the expectation of some benefit, even if that benefit is something as simple as a seamlessly easy user experience or a relevant advertisement. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that consumer transparency and choice are important. Whenever personal information is collected and used in the marketing context, companies have a responsibility to tell consumers what is happening and what choice they have. That’s just good business practice.

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