‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy . . . That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Juliet — Romeo and Juliet:  Act 2, Scene 2

Juliet knew what she was talking about that night on her balcony. The names we give things can have a huge impact on how we perceive the thing itself.  Marketers and policymakers should bear this in mind when looking at some of the popularly accepted monikers we attach to many of the essential tools and practices in today’s data-driven marketplace.

Our naming conventions can work against us when we try to demonstrate our responsible use of consumer data.  There are currently several efforts to severely limit the access and use of consumer data for legitimate, responsible marketing purposes in Congress, state capitals, and at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Consumer trust is so essential to customer engagement – and we should take care that we accurately describe the very positive work that we do to improve experiences and relevance.

Sometimes terms for marketing practices that are both responsible and cool – can be misinterpreted by certain policymakers as creepy.  A great example of this is the word “targeting.”  This term is used widely to describe how marketers use insights gleaned from consumer data to choose the most relevant messages and offers to send to the right person, at the right time.  It provides the ability to recognize your own customers, and target segments of your CRM database with online ads across the web.  This practice is at the very core of data-driven marketing.

Another example is the term “fingerprinting,” which uses information such as computer settings to identify a user across multiple computers — allowing marketers to make informed decisions based on a better understanding the value that each marketing channel contributes to the overall marketing plan.

We know that practices such as these are not just cool – but hugely beneficial to marketers, consumers, and the data-driven economy.  Yet policymakers have distorted and misrepresented them by implying that marketers are employing creepy tactics to “stalk” consumers across the internet.

As we’ve seen, there is often a “disconnect” between marketer-speak and policy-speak.  With this is mind, marketers should think about how policymakers and consumers will understand “industry terms when they’re making up names for the next “cool thing” in the future.

So, as we think about giving names to the exciting new innovations — whether it’s a new technology, practice, tool, or methodology — keep in mind that there will always be naysayers eager to give them a negative spin.  Let’s make sure we think before we name – and that we create monikers that accurately and positively describe the great, responsible work we do as data-driven marketers.

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