Recently I’ve found that every time I go online, conversations I’ve had offline are played back to me through targeted content. While it’s helpful to have a number of headphone brands advertised all over my social media pages after a simple conversation with friends, it also raises a number of privacy concerns.
We as consumers have long exchanged personal information, such as phone numbers or email addresses, for services we find valuable like free WiFi. With that said, we are now providing further passage into our lives with technology such as Alexa and ai controlled voice commands. While it’s convenient that Alexa can turn off the lights in our homes, it’s also equally alarming.
We have essentially created a privacy paradox. Privacy is a concern for most of us, but this has not diminished our demand for convenient, personalised services. Instead, it has created a trade-off. What am I handing over and what am I receiving in return?
Although we are wanting increasingly convenient and personalised services from organisations we interact with, how can brands manage the tension between providing that personalised service, without encroaching on our privacy?
The answer lies in managing the benefits of personalisation with the balance of privacy protection. It comes down to the way brands use the data to micro-target us. Sometimes, it’s authentic and helpful, such as an accelerated purchase path or a recommendation of items you are likely to be interested in. Amazon and Spotify use information to create personalised recommendations that are relevant and appropriate to each of us. On the flip side, Google and Facebook use our information to advertise to us, which can be both frustrating and concerning.
Adidas created a personal highlight film for each of the 30,000 runners who participated in the Boston Marathon earlier this year. The brand used the data collected during the experience and provided the information back to the runners in a memorable and meaningful way. The highlight reel marked the milestones during the run for each participant providing them with a film to celebrate their achievement. It added a genuine meaning to the service they provided by using the data to help create motivation for the challenge the following year.
With lives becoming busier, we are all interested in relevant and personalised interactions that are going to add to our lives. We want the shortcuts offered to us, and we have an expectation that businesses and brands will be responsible with how they use the information we entrust to them. Brands need to be thinking about what privacy they are asking people to give up for a personalised service. And more importantly, how they can manage the tension between privacy and personalisation appropriately.