In a recent article published by Advertising Age, Acxiom CEO Scott Howe begins by declaring his passion for helping marketers make connections with customers and prospects through the use of data. But he points out that he shares the same concerns as many consumers about responsible data-use. “As a husband, father and citizen — I do have concerns about how to ensure the data about me is used responsibly and that it remains secure,” he says.
Although Mr. Howe acknowledges that consumers have different levels of concerns about data-use, he explains that all data is not of equal importance, and therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate:
“Data regarding personal information that pertains to employment or insurability decisions, or that relates to sensitive health-related issues or confidential matters, deserves much different treatment than data that would indicate that I am a sports fan. Too often, legislation and regulation seek to paint issues in broad strokes, often with unforeseen consequences to liberties and innovation, despite being born of the best intentions.”
The question as to which companies should be deemed “data brokers” and which should not, misses the point, Mr. Howe says. “There’s an ongoing debate regarding data brokers and which companies fall into that category. That discussion misses the point. The reality is that in this new data economy, a majority of companies across industries are collecting, aggregating and using data to improve business and advance relationships with customers. Because of this, there should be standardized and agreed upon guidelines for all.”
Above all, Mr. Howe stresses transparency. “I am especially focused on how to improve transparency and choice because without it, everything else is hollow. Our company introduced AboutTheData.com to the U.S. market last September, allowing consumers to see the data we have about them.”
“When we remove the mystery, we remove the fear,” Mr. Howe concludes. “And that’s when truly amazing things can happen.”
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