Consumers Volunteering Personal Information Bring Real Value to Market[ers]

Traditionally, online ad targeting has been driven by cookies, small files created by websites to track user behavior and interests.  This can sometimes lead to great but creepy customer service, as Marketplace’s Steve Henn summarizes:

A couple weeks before Christmas, I was searching for a special video camera. I couldn’t find it online. Then four days before Christmas, Amazon sent me an e-mail with a link to the exact camera I was looking for. It was both wonderful and creepy at the same time. I got what I wanted, but I knew Amazon had been watching on me.

To be clear, Stik.com does not do any user tracking via browser cookies with or without users’ consent or knowledge. Today, however, a new ad targeting paradigm is emerging which has the potential to be even more powerful without freaking people out. I am talking about the type of permission marketing that people like David A. Yovanno, CEO of Gigya, Inc, call the future – where consumers knowingly offer personal information to marketers because they appreciate tailored advertising over impersonal and generic pitches.

“Now websites have the opportunity to embrace transparency, to be upfront with people during the registration process about how their data will be used, as well as how it will benefit both parties,” Yovanno wrote recently in a post on Mashable. “We have a new generation comfortable using Facebook and other mobile apps and who, according to recent survey data, are quite willing to share personal information with companies and brands in exchange for value provided.”

That’s why we’ve focused on Facebook in building Stik.com to help connect consumers and sales professionals.The type of data volunteered by consumers themselves offers an authenticity that can’t be replicated through pure data mining, and Facebook is far and away the best provider of authentic online identity.

Imagine the opportunity for realtors to reach out to Facebook users in their network who update their status with, “House hunting with the hubby!”

This is a realistic way to connect with potential clients for realtors, not to mention those in the mortgage and financial services industries, in the near future with a maturing Facebook-savvy generation willing to volunteer data. It’s difficult to predict what will become of surreptitious consumer tracking, but it’s easy to see that the value of user-volunteered information will endure.

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