Posted by: pauditore | March 20, 2013

The Consumer Genome

The Data Dog Smokes

The Data Dog Smokes

This is one of my favorite blogs and its a little dated, but still very relevant in the grand scheme of things where nothing is really FREE. Whether YOU know it or not every time YOU share information on Facebook, Twitter or Google YOU are fueling their add/growth engine in addition to any business model innovation they may or may not tell YOU about. These social media networks have become the “ultimate real-time” market research platform and the myriad of information they have about YOU on a global basis is daunting.

Facebook’s revenue of approximately $3B at the time of IPO can only be increased through sustainable profitable growth. Some recent rumors are that they will create a Facebook phone. In the meantime that growth is all about YOU, and everything thing they do now is all about getting YOU to share more information. What do you think time lines are all about? And the more they know about YOU the more they will sell it to their ecosystem and advertisers on a global basis. They don’t tell you that they are mining your data and profiling you just like the FBI profiled serial killers in the early 1990s. All this information is being used to target YOU with products and services that match your profile. When I was single every day I got two add for dating services, so this is really viral mass marketing on a global scale.

According to a recent NY Times article Acxiom now touts them selves as the worlds largest consumer database, but I don’t buy it because Facebook and Google are. Axciom says it processes 50 trillion data transactions yearly and that it has information on 500 million active consumers worldwide and that they employ 1500 data points to map consumers. They call this “the consumer genome” and it is sold to many financial services and retailers (see NY Times June 17th 2012.) Think about the privacy issues especially from a health perspective if you list yourself as diabetic pregnant or you are a smoker and drinker. This information is most likely being sold to health insurance companies who will undoubtedly adjust your premiums accordingly.

Although Axciom promotes itself as “a global thought leader in addressing consumer privacy issues” its executives declined to be interviewed for this article. That reflects that they are on the bleeding edge of consumer privacy and international data protection laws.  But think about this, Axciom is sniffing old digital exhaust in some cases 40 years old. Google at the same time has “instant data gratification” because they know what nearly everyone is searching for almost globally; this is extremely powerful given that they can harvest data on any product and service and employ predictive analytics to forecast sales of products and services by product and service on a daily basis.  One word “scary.”

The Good the Bad and the Ugly of Facebook & Twitter

And of course now Facebook has become a rich hunting ground for all kinds of scammers and stalkers, and along with LinkedIn it’s the new hard rock mining platform for sales people. During one recent weekend I met several people that outright said they hated Facebook. Why? In one case Facebook had facilitated the termination of a twenty-five year marriage because suddenly the high school sweet heart was back and had connected with his former love and she left her family and children to go back to him. This would have never happened “most likely” if Facebook weren’t in our lives. The sad part of this tale is that the woman’s children are now watching here Facebook posts about how lovely her new relationship is. This is chilling and sad all at the same time. All Facebook content is easily discoverable and the lawyers are having a heyday collecting content to support family law cases.

In our new study, The Social Mind, we found that the majority of educated Americans use Facebook primarily for friends and not family. This may change in time depending on the success of Facebook to keep its membership, most recently Facebook began losing members and some major advertisers have pulled out including GE. Culturally, some people are too private for Facebook and I have many friends and family that don’t participate for a variety of reasons.

Twitter on the other hand is a bellwether for news and information and it also can get you into trouble fast. Here is a good example of what not to do on Twitter, true story. A friend of mine’s nephew got caught in a sting operation in a New Jersey high school selling weed to an undercover cop. Yes they are still in the dark ages in New Jersey. Well the story takes a turn for the worse with Twitter. After coming home from the police station the teen tweets that he is going to go “Columbine” on the police department he is so angry. Another teen following him shows her mother the tweet and she calls the police station. An hour later the swat team shows up at the teen’s house and he is taken into protective custody for mental evaluation after the house is searched for guns.


Be careful about what you say in any social media environment and understand that by providing more information about your self is not necessarily a good thing, and that all information is discoverable not only by lawyers and police but also your HR department. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in this millennium.


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