Digital advertisers: would you pay consumers for their data?

With the rise of “Do Not Track” and Ad Choices, there’s only so much advertisers can learn about web users through targeting methods, and quite honestly, it’s often a sketchy model.

So how can we target web users effectively in a way that’s regulated and won’t upset them?

Some believe the answer is to give users incentives (like gift cards) to share valuable data with advertisers, such as their online shopping behavior and website preferences,according to Gigaom’s Derrick Harris.

Enliken is one company that is trying to figure out how exchanges like this between advertisers and consumers can realistically take place. Marc Guldimann, Enliken’s Founder and CEO, spoke with Harris and I encourage you to check out the full article.

In short, Guildimann believes that users aren’t getting any tangible value out of behavioral targeting. The only benefit is that they’re seeing ads that appeal only slightly more to them.

If I told advertisers that I’m a Star Wars fan who also loves basketball and football, I wouldn’t mind seeing ads on those subjects. But right now, advertisers only have very basic information about me, so I’m seeing ads that barely pique my interest at all.

The key, Guildimann says, is to treat data as its own currency and reciprocate with users.

To begin, Enliken wants to share with users what data is being collected as they browse the web. That way, users will understand that by enabling “Do Not Track,” they’re just putting a Band-Aid on a larger issue. Ultimately, the decision is up to each user if they want to opt out of behavioral tracking, but Enliken hopes to show users that by providing advertisers with valuable info they will have a much more engaging web browsing experience and, perhaps down the road, it will make money.

According to the Gigaom article:

“With Enliken, users can edit, control and even prioritize the data they want advertisers to see, thus making the data richer and more-valuable. Enliken will then sell the data to advertisers, keeping a portion of the proceeds for itself and donating the rest to a charity of the user’s choice. In the future, Guldimann thinks the model could expand to include forms of credit from advertisers (e.g., frequent flyer miles or product discounts) that consumers could use on websites instead of whipping out their credit card for every purchase.”

No surprise that Google is already doing something similar. The company is trying to learn even more about users’ behavior and paying some of them $5 Amazon gift cards to be able to track the web sites they visit.

And it isn’t just publishers, advertisers and big businesses looking for valuable consumer data and treating it as money.  

Right now there is a bill in Congress attempting to lower the rates paid to artists by streaming music services like Pandora. Musician Zoë Keating offered a potential solution so that both sides win:

 “The law only demands I be paid in money, which at this point in my career is not as valuable as information. I’d rather be paid in data.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Data is money in today’s digital world, and offering incentives to get the right data from consumers is the most appealing and least controversial model that digital advertisers should start to consider.  

What do you think?

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