Who’s afraid of sharing their data?


Share on LinkedIn

In an article in the Wall Street Journal last week, Emily Steel highlighted a “third party data reseller”company  that collects  data on consumers behavior online, and then sold that information to marketers for use in personalized email campaigns and web site ads. The article, entitled “A Web Pioneer Profiles Users by Name“  discussed a company named Rapleaf that provided information to political campaigns based on a consumers political leaning, all based on that consumer’s social media behavior.

Rapleaf  does not sell or share e-mail addresses; however, the company will provide names and other information if the company already has the e-mail address of that consumer. If the company does not have email addresses, then Rapleaf will sell anonymous information to help companies make their online ads more relevant to people who see their sites.  Information comes from a network of cooperating websites that pass along specific consumer information for consolidation at Rapleaf.  Rapleaf has built a substantial network to date.  As the Wall St. Journal reports, “The San Francisco startup says it has 1 billion e-mail addresses in its database.”

Rapleaf’s information is widely used by the direct marketing industry, as well as a number of political campaigns in this very hotly contested political season.  Rapleaf helps campaigns target likely voters for a certain party with on-line ads.  In such an effort, the targeting has proven successful.

A subsequent article in the Wall St. Journal reported that thousands of consumers had requested that their information be deleted from Rapleaf’s servers, in response to the first article.  From my perspective, consumers are reacting to information about them being shared without their expressed permission, and are overreacting and making their own lives worse in the process.

Can someone please tell me what is wrong with a company collecting my interests and preferences and sharing them with companies that want to sell me something?

You see, I start from the premise that most companies are trying to find the right customers to target with their marketing.  That does not bother me at all.  If they do find the right customers, they will sell more, hire more employees and fuel the economy.  When they don’t find the right customers, they waste time and money and drag down their revenue and earnings.

Here is what bothers me — emails, direct mail and online ads that bombard me with information and offers on products and services that I have no interest in, whatsoever.  Time and again, I receive offers for credit cards, mortgages, charities, campaigns, etc. that I would never respond to, in a million years.

Please personalize my data!

If you can help those companies stop sending me worthless mailings, emailings and on-line ads, it would make my life easier.  In fact, I will provide you with even more information if you just ask nicely!  Anything to stop the tsunami of garbage coming my way every day.

Look, it does not mean that I will receive MORE communications.  It is hard to even imagine that!  Just please customize it for me.  Remember, unexpected email that you do not value is called “spam.”  Unexpected email that you do value is called, “great customer service.”

So thousands of people opted out of Rapleaf, and will now continue to have the pleasure of receiving more useless communications, as companies struggle to figure out what they want.

Just ask me, I will be glad to tell you!

Related articles

Who’s afraid of sharing their data?


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (www.liftpointconsulting.com), a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at www.liftpointconsulting.com/blog and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here