Internet users expect free services and content. News, email, games and social networks are among the most popular “free” services. Initially, web sites simply wanted your page views to fuel their advertising income. Then they asked you for your email to send you newsletters with ads in them. As advertising became targeted, sites demanded more information such as gender, date of birth, address and credit card number. Then social networks exploded and we willingly handed over our entire lives and relationships. With the current advertising formats being rolled out on Facebook and Twitter, our thoughts and opinions have become the latest data sets for marketeers. Mobile surfing means our locations are now on offer as well.
If we measure the cost of “free” services to a user in terms of the volume of personal data that he or she needs to reveal, it is clear that the cost of Free has a very high inflation rate. “Data is the new oil” is now a conference PowerPoint cliché and consumers are the oil reserves.
Will this change? Is there a time where people will demand compensation for revealing their personal information or for receiving customised marketing messages?
The obvious answer is No. Anyone who thinks the opposite will likely be old enough to remember life before the Internet. Privacy is on a one way trip to extinction.
Don’t waste your time mourning the loss of privacy. Instead, think about how your business can benefit from it to better understand customers, tailor services and exceed expectations.