[a version we wrote of this ran in Multichannel News]
Five Ways for Digital Marketers to Protect Consumer Privacy
If George Orwell were writing today, 1984â€™s Winston Smith would be working as a â€œDoublespeakâ€ specialist crafting privacy policies and creating self-regulatory regimes.Â Thatâ€™s not what consumers and citizens need in the interactive marketing era.Â Â All Americans should have their privacy respected and protected when they go onlineâ€”including when they use mobile phones.
1.Â Â Â Â Tell your users what you actually say to your advertisersâ€”about how the profiling and targeting process really works.Â There is a disconnect that is unfair and deceptive between what companies say in their privacy policies and pitch to their clients and potential partners.Â Â Be honest about the â€œ360 degreeâ€ ways you engage in online marketing.
2.Â Â Â Â Donâ€™t collect information and target consumers based on their interests in finance and health.Â These two most â€œsensitiveâ€ categories should be opt-in only.Â Â When consumers go online for loans, credit, mortgages, and health concerns they require the upmost privacy.Â Although online financial, health and so-called lead-generation advertising is big business, consumers should not be forced to have their online financial and health behavior stealthfully-tracked and compiled.Â The risks to consumers are great if we donâ€™t develop special rules for this data.
3.Â Â Â Â Racial and ethnic profiling data should also be opt-in. Hispanics, African-Americas, Asian-Americans and other minorities are increasingly the focus of a growing behavioral targeting and online marketing apparatus.Â In the â€œofflineâ€ world, we have witnessed a disturbing use of racial profiling practices to discriminate against individuals.Â In todayâ€™s online environment, users are being identified as being a member of a racial or ethnic group without either their awareness or consent.Â While we all want to see the growth of diversely owned online publishing, it should not be done at the expense of civil liberties in the digital era.Â We must prevent the growth of online racial profiling, that when tied to income, geography and other data can be used to create 21st Century forms of discrimination.
4.Â Â Â Â Donâ€™t use neuromarketing and other subliminal and subconscious-based advertising.Â Â Fortune 1000 advertisers and online marketers such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are using new forms of ad testing and development involving the latest tools of neuroscience, such as fMRIâ€™s and EEGs.Â Neuromarketingâ€™s goal is to directly influence a consumerâ€™s subconscious, and when combined with the power of online data targeting,Â offers powerfulâ€”and frighteningâ€”new forms of manipulation.
5.Â Â Â Â Users need to consent to having their profiles be bought and sold on so-called online ad exchanges.Â Selling off the right to target a consumer online, via real-time auctions that happen in milliseconds, is dehumanizing.Â Nor should we permit the growing combination of offline and online databases to be used for targeting, including via these new digital auction houses.
Interactive marketing is now a fundamental operating principle for the cross-platform media economy throughout the world.Â Â But right now, it’s a digital “wild west” that doesn’t serve the interests of consumers, citizens and most marketers.