Today’s marketers are also using sophisticated analytical techniques to track consumers’ digital movements and to build amazingly detailed customer profiles containing highly personal information. Such profiles can then be used to hyper-target individual consumers with personalized brand messages and offers. However, with such targeting, marketers often walk a fine line between serving customers better and stalking them:
How well does your smartphone know you? What stories could your laptop tell? In truth, your digital devices probably know more about you than you know about yourself. Smartphones and other digital equipment have become fundamental extensions of our lives. Whatever you do—at work, at play, socializing, shopping—your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop is almost always a part of the action.
These devices go where you go, entertain you, connect you with friends, take you browsing and shopping, feed you news and information, and listen in on even your most intimate voice, text, and email conversations. And more and more, these devices are sharing all that personal information with marketers. Companies have now developed sophisticated new ways that border on wizardry to extract intimate insights about consumers. For brands and marketers, such information is pure gold.
Marketers argue that using all of this up-close-and-personal information better serves both customers and the company. Customers receive tailored, relevant information and offer from brands that really understand and interest them. However, many consumers and privacy advocates are concerned that such intimate information in the hands of unscrupulous marketers could result in more harm than benefit to consumers.
They often view big data and hyper-targeting less as “getting to know consumers better to serve them better” and more as “stalking” consumers and “profiling” them. Although most consumers are willing to share some personal information if it means getting better service or deals, many consumers worry that marketers might go too far.