Magazine article CRM Magazine

Can Marketers Behave Themselves? as Empowered Customers Traipse across the Web, They Leave Ever-Juicier Breadcrumbs of Behavior in Their Wake. the Government May Step in to Limit What Marketers Are Allowed to Scoop Up

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Can Marketers Behave Themselves? as Empowered Customers Traipse across the Web, They Leave Ever-Juicier Breadcrumbs of Behavior in Their Wake. the Government May Step in to Limit What Marketers Are Allowed to Scoop Up

Article excerpt

Is Big Brother watching you? Probably--but not the one you're thinking of. Today's surveying sibling doesn't care if you buy into his political propaganda as much as he cares if you buy his products.

The debate over marketing personalization and advertising targeted to consumers' behavior is hardly new--search results for "behavioral advertising" date back at least as far as 2003--but a recent resurgence of criticism in Washington and in the media has revealed some interesting facts about what marketing personalization means for CRM.

The number of people embracing mobile social networking, for example, may reach 770 million by 2012, according to a report by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and AVG Technologies that examined social-community vulnerabilities. The figure is particularly compelling considering nearly 20 percent of respondents claimed to have been the victim of identity theft--and therefore understandably skeptical of the online flow of personal information. If the report's projections are accurate--and the incidence of identity theft remains unchanged--then approximately 154 million people can expect to have their identities stolen by 2012.

Are the dangers that prevalent? A recent article in The New York Times suggested the possibility that Social Security numbers (SSNs) could be deduced by compiling and analyzing the standard biographical data posted by users of such popular services as Facebook and Twitter. SSNs, the article said, "are prized by identity thieves because they're used both as identifiers and to authenticate banking, credit-card, and other transactions. [But] so far, this type of powerful data mining, which relies on sophisticated statistical correlations, is mostly in the realm of university researchers."

And yet Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, says that personalized marketing is worth the risk of stolen identities. The 5,000 global marketers represented by the council control approximately $150 billion of annual marketing spend, Neale-May says--and the group strongly advocates the need for marketers to gather customer data.

Collected consumer information, Neale-May contends, produces better customer response and reduces wasteful unwanted or uninvited mailings. The information helps increase the relevance of those messages: The data is analyzed, meaningful insights are extracted, and predictive modeling is developed to show what customers intend to buy or are satisfied with. As an example of the benefits of a well-informed marketer, Neale-May suggests that mobile messaging might remind a senior citizen of the need to replenish medication that's about to run out or expire. …

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