When it came out in March that Facebook had badly mishandled up to 87 million user’s personal data, it caused a heightened level of attention towards online privacy, as well as an uneasiness towards the general uncertainty of not knowing whose data was eventually sold to Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook began to notify users whose data was compromised, but uncertainty and uneasiness remains. The only way Facebook and similar social media platforms can recover is by putting consumers in charge of their personal online data.
Currently, consumers have their information compiled by social media platforms like Facebook or tracked by third-party data aggregators most people have never heard of. Aggregators then sell this data, ad clicks, mouse hovers, web history and more to advertisers as a way to retarget consumers. The problem is this information is not the right information to entice consumers to click on ads.
Aggregators and social media platforms need to collect the right information for advertisers and be transparent about how that data is used.
In the present ad tech ecosystem, the wrong data is collected, and it is collected in the wrong way. Consumers ignore ads because the wrong data, the past products they’ve clicked on and the websites they’ve searched does not automatically equate to products or services they find valuable. When this data is utilized, consumers are served irrelevant ads they find annoying and oftentimes extremely creepy and invasive to their personal privacy.
By asking for explicit consent from the consumer and putting them in control, aggregators and social media platforms will get the right data. So what constitutes the right data to get consumers engaging with ads? Purchase intent data is the only information need. Mouse hovers, browser history, random ad clicks and page likes are all unnecessary. Advertisers just simply need to ask the consumer: What are your favorite brands? What do you shop for most? What products and services do you find valuable?
When the consumer answers these questions, they are creating first-party data that can be utilized to target them with ads they find valuable. By answering, they are opting into providing some of their information, but not personal, identifiable data.