Today the giant data compiler, Acxiom, just launched a site where consumers can go to see what details the company has collected on them. It’s called AboutTheData.com, and it begs the question: Why?
With all the public apprehension about personal data, why would Acxiom offer consumers this chance to look “behind the curtain”? To get a glimpse of the 100’s of data points including age, income, residence, ethnicity, marital status, and the types of products purchased.
- PR – By offering transparency, Axciom helps improve public perception in light of forthcoming online privacy bills and the FTC’s “Reclaim Your Name” initiative – asking the data industry to share what it knows. As we’ve seen in the offline direct response world, the online data industry can significantly postpone and reduce government regulation if it appears to be doing a decent job of self-regulation.
- More PR – This creates an ideal platform to continue the data industry’s position that “the more they know about us, the more relevant their messages to us will be.” BTW, this author agrees with that position entirely. If I can curb the bombardment of irrelevant messages in favor of ads for things that genuinely interest me, it’s a lot more helpful – and interesting.
- Quality Control – To a much lesser degree, if we consumers felt compelled to make corrections to our data held by Acxiom, it would result in a higher quality product and enable them to charge more for their data.
On the final point, Acxiom has a long way to go – as do all the other major data compilers.
A few times over the years, our team has shared a laugh when we’ve seen how some of the data companies profile us. A single person was thought to be married with kids. An admin assistant was thought to have an annual income of $150,000+. Etc., etc.
But while there were some individual-level errors, the data is mostly accurate. Or “close enough for jazz,” as an old musician friend used to say.
The truth of the matter is that “close enough” is just fine – especially for high-circulation, high-spend campaigns. If >90% of the data is accurate, and it helps increase response or conversion by just a few percent – that can translate into a higher ROAS and $100,000’s of incremental revenue for our clients.
And that can be a win-win. The consumer sees more relevant ads, and the client makes more money.