In a recent video “open letter,” Fast Company’s Jason Feifer issued a challenge to Facebook: “I will give you all of the data you want about me…and, in return, I want a screen full of ads that I actually want to see. Can you do that? I don’t think that you can.” His point is more nuanced, though, than simply pointing out that the advertising most of us see on Facebook—indeed, across much of the Web—often misses the mark of our interests. “Do not worry about these people collecting your data because, quite frankly, they have no idea what to do with it,” he says.

There is a common refrain among some marketers—or perhaps more correctly, the technology companies that sell to them—that simply collecting more data equals a better customer experience. But in a world where collecting data isn’t difficult (one user discovered that Facebook had amassed more than 1,200 pages of data on him), “more” only leads to “better” if the data has the right context.

Earlier this year, I noted that “The most effective digital content for driving purchases is consumer reviews from real product owners.” It’s not that social networks like Facebook don’t collect information that can be helpful for marketers. In today’s digital world, every online interaction is a data point for businesses; however, only a small portion of the reams of collected data provides any information about your attitudes as a shopper. If the expectation is for social networks to uncover actionable information that will lead to better products or services, businesses need to shift their operations to accommodate consumers who treat data as currency, and intend to use that currency to negotiate new brand relationships.

Because we live in a world where consumers recognize the significance of their data, companies must consider what value they are delivering for the information they collect. It’s with this in mind that the Bazaarvoice network is focused exclusively on informing the consumer shopping journey. Product reviews provide deep insight specific to a consumer’s attitude about a business or its products, and they are displayed in the most prominent locations consumers use to research and purchase products: the brand’s or retailer’s website and search sites such as Google. This is a stark comparison to social networks, which consumers say they use only 15% of the time to research products.

Subscription services like Poshly and Munchery are great examples of the added value companies can give to consumers when they focus on capturing and using insights from carefully collected data. Such services require consumers to fill out extensive preference sheets that help ensure every delivery (be it clothing, makeup, or food) is curated with the particular consumers’ preferences in mind. Because the information gathered directly results in a better service and consumers can immediately see the return on their data, they are more willing to offer it up to those businesses.

With the shift to consumers as the dominant force behind the health of any business’ brand, the companies that will see the biggest pay-off are those that collect the right data, with the right context, that is displayed at the touchpoints that truly impact the consumer experience.

  • alesha

    this is really interesting.That would be very challenging for face book to show correct adds based on the consumer data provided by user. …this doubt may get solved by facebook in coming years..