Data selling has grown into a lucrative business, with companies across the globe spending millions of dollars on third-party audience data for marketing and advertising. According to research by the IAB Data Center of Excellence and Winterberry Group, U.S companies spent close to $19.2 billion in 2018 to purchase third party data audience and data-focused solutions.
The trend has grown bigger in recent years as more entities come to appreciate the value proposition of data. Today, most firms use data in one way or another. This increasing demand for consumer data has significantly changed the perspective of data in the modern world. Some companies are even going to the extent of breaching consumer privacy to buy or sell data that may be useful to their businesses.
The New Oil
As more people embrace digital technologies, the world has become a digital hub where everyone interacts with the internet. These interactions may seem like a small thing, but they count a lot when it comes to the valuable data left on the trail.
Ideally, companies can gain access to personal data and other valuable information such as browsing history, placing them in a better position to predict a person’s preferences. It comes as no surprise that targeted marketing has become so popular and thriving in the recent past.
So, how is data the new oil? Let’s start by acknowledging that data has proven to play a significant part in fuelling the current economy. However, like oil, data has to be refined for it to be valuable. In most cases, companies purchase scattered data sets that need to be cleaned before executing any analysis, hence being dubbed the ‘digital oil’.
While using purchased data to improve one’s business may be within the law, concerns have come up regarding privacy breaches in the process of buying and selling consumer data. As it stands, only a few companies that collect and sell consumer data have detailed disclosures on such activities. Meanwhile, a handful disclose it in the fine print.
This begs the question of who should benefit from the consumer data? Logically, it makes sense that companies who sell consumer data share the proceeds with the data owners. Unfortunately, this is not the case; in fact, most consumers are unaware that their data is sold to third parties, or it could fetch a fortune for them as well.
Why Data Privacy is a Becoming a Global Discussion
Though still largely unregulated, the rise of data brokers has forced stakeholders to swing into action. These firms compile information from the internet by aggregating data from publicly available resources such as court cases, marriage licenses and property records. All this is valuable information that can be sold for top dollar depending on the demand and the value that a buyer can derive.
Besides monetizing consumer data, companies that engage in this business have been criticized for not disclosing their intentions. Usually, consumer data is sold without consent, leaving organizations with complete control over one’s data. In some cases, the brokers even sell critical personal data such as medical records, which exposes consumers to a greater risk of exploitation.
Giving Back Power to Consumers
Consumers ought to receive some form of compensation from the companies that sell their data. This will level the playing field or at least increase the trust between companies and consumers. So far, only a few companies have adopted favourable compensation models. Luckily, upcoming technologies like blockchain are changing the landscape by introducing ecosystems that give consumers complete control of their data.
This nascent technology has brought about decentralized architectures, eliminating middlemen such as data brokers. Some of the innovations in blockchain and crypto that have pivoted to data privacy solutions include Bistroo, a food ecosystem that makes both merchants and consumers happy.
Contrary to centralized e-commerce intermediary platforms. Bistroo leverages blockchain to enable direct communication, acting as a facilitator instead of dictating the terms. With Bistroo, merchants in the food industry can list their shops online while retaining full control of the operations. The platform allows merchants to customize the listed services, select their preferred payment method, and access permissioned consumer data.
On the other hand, consumers who buy services from the food and mealbox stores listed on Bistroo also have full control of their data. Even better, the platform incentivizes consumers to share their data in return for network rewards, BIST tokens. The Bistroo community-powered food ecosystem gives data control back to consumers, creating an environment where no one’s data is sold or monetized without their consent.
The digital era is upon us, continuously changing the fundamentals that bind today’s economy. As mentioned earlier, data is among the forefront drivers in this new age. Therefore, everyone needs to become more data conscious and understand the opportunities and risks of providing consumer data to companies.
With the advent of technologies such as blockchain, consumers can regain complete control of data while still accessing various services. This technology will significantly change the dynamics of the data market by enabling consumers to control what they share.
Furthermore, blockchain technology sets the stage for other innovations, including Decentralized Finance (DeFi), which aims to bring financial freedom to the masses. While it may take some years before consumers adopt decentralized financial services, it is hard to ignore the value proposition of autonomy.