Marketing overload loses customers, expert says

Better use of customer data combined with new privacy policy auditing tools in databases is fast delivering offers from mass marketers and junk mailers straight to the dustbin says self-proclaimed futurist and data guru Thom Blischok

Better use of customer data combined with new privacy policy auditing tools in databases is fast delivering offers from mass marketers and junk mailers straight to the dustbin says self-proclaimed futurist and data guru Thom Blischok.

Best known as the man that came up with the 'beer and nappies' theory (or how supermarkets analyse customer spending by what they put in their shopping baskets), Blischok claims that consumers are so inundated with irrelevant marketing campaigns that modern companies will sink or swim by the way they communicate with customers.

"The consumer is essentially over-communicated and finding that their data is being sold to more and more corporations and organisations for reuse other than for which the original permissible purpose was given. There is a huge human and legislative outcry," Blischok claims.

The result of this great consumer shriek of pain, Blischok contends, is that enterprises are now being forced to make marketing offers based on relevance rather than weight of numbers. Asked if such relevance is perhaps in the eye of the beholder, Blischok replies with a statistical parade of shame from credit card companies.

"There are 270 million Americans, and two years ago there were 32 billion credit card solicitations sent out to Americans-and we know how many were relevant: less than a couple of %. If you look at credit card solicitations, magazine, mobile phone, car solicitations — they (have) had enough," Blischok says. The result is that so-called data centric companies are now embedding privacy policies in the actual code of their databases, removing any access and temptation for overly liberal interpretations.

Critical to the reign of this new privacy imperative is the ability to dynamically audit enterprise privacy policies on the fly, where any attempts to create silos can be monitored, assessed and approved in a timely manner before they hit the mail room, Blischok says.

"You now have dynamic auditing down to the issue of the field. It takes the administration of the privacy policy out of the general population of the organisation and institutionalises it. Dynamic auditing means that you can assure compliance and it becomes standard," Blischok says.

Asked if such technology will potentially spell the end of mass marketing vehicles such as television and newspapers, Blischok contends it will make them more efficient and focused while freeing up otherwise wasted marketing spend — even if this seems at odds with their very modus operandi.

Whether such newly liberated funds will ever flow into the hard-pressed IT kitty is a matter Blischok refuses to speculate on.

Crompton pushes simplicity Federal Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton is pushing to have standardised 'plain English' privacy policy statements adopted by companies to counter obfuscation through fine print at the 25th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Sydney, September 10 to 12, with a motion being put to a closed plenary session on the final day.

"The new format will give consumers the most important privacy information in a quick and easy way with links to formal legal notices if further notice is required by the different laws," Crompton told Computerworld.

"If passed, the resolution, while not law, will send a powerful message to all organisations around the world of the need to improve consumer knowledge. It will also lay the foundation for further work on how to do it successfully."

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