Is the basic economic model of Facebook, where advertisers and developers use consumer data to target advertising, safe and fair given the risks?
That’s the question everyone’s asking. It’s not a new question.
Online marketers have been building buyer personas for over a decade now. But it is a timely one.
Psychographics vs Demographics
Mass media has been selling ads based on demographics and geographics from the beginning.
Psychographics are the latest segmentation option, afforded by online media.
Facebook is and always has been a psychographic advertising platform.
And while the richest profile and social graph data a marketer can analyze these days may come from Facebook — since they can pair likes, comments and shares with extended user profile info — digital marketing pros know they’re certainly not the only game in town.
YouTube, Twitter and Linkedin are psychographic advertising platforms too. Even Amazon mines profile data to recommend stuff to buy.
That’s what big data marketing analytics are all about, and they’re not going away anytime soon.
Leopards can’t change their spots.
Cambridge Analytica fired the shot across the bow, waking us all up to the power of consumer psychographic profiling. But their process, albeit increasingly a tad more sophisticated, is nothing new.
Big data is data about you that’s been analyzed, interpreted and regurgitated to try and get to take some sort of action.
Social networks sell ads based on user profiles they surveil. Amazon and Netflix make recommendations based on user data they surveil.
Social customer relationship management or consumer surveillance services like Gigya and Janrain have actual platforms that are used to improve customer loyalty by assembling rich customer profiles that can be used to drive better marketing by amassing psychographic segmentation variables from multiple sources in a single database.
When you use a loyalty rewards card to save money at the check out counter, you’re selling your purchasing history to someone, somewhere, who can sell it to someone else, to build a consumer profile about you.
Imagine how well you could predict someone’s behavior — particularly someone unaware of what psychographic profiling is all about — if you could combine their Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Yelp and shopping data into one big digital dossier?
Aenta recently bought CVS, which means they’re likely to be using your purchase history data at some point to determine your insurance premiums.
Think about that next time you use social sign-in options like these on a third-party website.
Without critical thinking skills, ease of use come at a price, and in this case, it’s the ability to download your profile information into a database.
So if you’re surprised about the Cambridge Analytica “scandal”, you shouldn’t be. And if you think there’s anyway Zuck can protect you, you’re dreaming.
When you share information on social networks, you’re giving up your right to privacy, because it’s unreasonable to think that after sharing something publicly on Facebook or Twitter, you can still keep it private.
You’ve forfeited any reasonable expectation of privacy.
Having sex at home is private, but having sex in a glass elevator is not.
Social networks are glass elevators.
It’s incredibly naive to be shocked, particularly at this point in the game, that advertisers are using profile information for psychographic profiling.
Regulation isn’t the answer either. It would be nothing more than congressional witch hunt, which I doubt would yield meaningful consumer protections.
We already take ads on TV with a grain of salt.
We need to learn to take silly Facebook ads that shoot to the top of our newsfeed — cause they’ve been liked, commented and shared of our connections — with the same healthy skepticism. Psychographic factors don’t have to drive consumer behavior. We can circumvent their effectiveness through education.
After all, it’s just an ad. It can’t make up our mind for us.
Government regulations can’t protect us from ignorance. We need sharper critical thinking skills.
Want to make a difference? Mentor a kid.
Teach someone fairmindedness and intellectual integrity. Show them how to evaluate arguments from many points of view.
When questionable psychographic advertising tactics provoke international hysteria, it’s time to invest in the intellectual evolution of our species.