It’s about the data, dummy – click ‘agree’ to continue

Written by on March 10, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

dataDuring a recent conversation about advertising I realised that I hate this data stuff. I will go out of my way to avoid giving it away. The conversation was about a company whose advertising budget was up for review, and whether or not Google Ads was a good idea. One side was all for going with Google Ads, the other thought they were pointless and good PR was the way forward. After all, nowadays, it is all about the story.

In order to prove the point the Google Ads proponent said ‘so type the name of our company into Google.’ The proponent of PR duly did so, and lo and behold an advert for the company popped up, with a little yellow sign telling you that it was an advert. ‘See?’ said Google Ad fan, ‘that’s how powerful it is.’

‘OK,’ said the PR fan, ‘but just under the advert, there is our company website. If you type in the name of our company, then, of course, we will be top hit.’

And on it went.

While this slightly surreal conversation was going on, I realised that if an advert pops up at the top of the search, just above the company’s web site, I will avoid it at all costs. If I see a banner ad for the airline I use to when I visit my mother and I think, ‘ah, I must buy tickets,’ I will never click the advert. I will open another tab and type in the name of the airline or travel site I normally use (avoiding the advert for the airline or site just above the actual one).


Because an (apparently subconscious) part of me does not want to give that data to whoever the data will end up with. The fact that they will probably get it anyway and that I will see endless adverts for things I have just bought, or that I use every day already, is irrelevant. A part of me does not want others to be able to exploit my data.

Data is at the heart of everything now. Businesses are founded on it. Analytics tools and the like are the only part of the IT landscape that is on the up.

I just wonder whether we are almost at a point where we, the people, will rise up and say ‘enough, our data is our data.’ Research projects are being funded on this basis, and products will appear that allow us to keep control of it. Hypothetical (at the moment) examples are appearing, of customers buying their own telematics machines for their cars and brokering the information to get the best rates of insurance. Just this morning, Opera announced they will be launching a browser with ad blocking built in. And what Opera does, others tend to follow.

Or is it too late? Have we clicked ‘agree’ and accepted the ‘data for service’ blackmail too often to go back?

It is, of course, possible that I am not normal (settle) and that most people are happy to give up – or trade on unequal terms – their data. A lot of businesses are banking on that being the case.

Mind you, just yesterday I discovered that the good old-fashioned typewriter is making a comeback in the executive suites of some companies that worry about this sort of thing.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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