The market for personal data is set to reach €1 trillion by 2020, according to the latest figures compiled by Boston Consulting Group. These days there are a lot of companies out there looking for ever-greater amounts of data, which can be analysed using specialist tools in order to spot customer behaviour trends. A major player here is Paris-based ‘personalised retargeting company’ Criteo, one of the world’s leading companies in targeted advertising, which draws on data found on websites, especially on social networks. At the same time however there is a growing trend for Internet users to want to take back control of their own personal data. Some platforms – Yes Profile and Reputation.com for example – already offer to put people in direct touch with advertisers in order to sell their personal data, an approach termed ‘one-to-one marketing’. Now New York-based startup Datacoup is trying to get people interested in profiting directly from their own data, offering to purchase information drawn from social network accounts, and adding the new feature of collecting data from transaction flows on a credit or debit card. It plans to charge commercial companies for the information and insights.
Remunerating data owners
Although all commercial companies clearly have an interest in collecting data that will help them to study the behaviour of their customers, Datacoup is touting as a unique selling point the fact that it combines online activity tracking with a record of people’s spending history, which will surely be extremely useful for advertisers. The NYC startup will pay you a maximum of $10 per month: $2 for information on your social network activity and up to $8 for details of your credit card transactions. The value of this combination of data is proved by the fact that Twitter and Facebook are already working with data broker Datalogix to link people’s social media data with information relating to their purchasing activities. Datacoup is looking to sell insights on the trends revealed by this data to companies. It is also thinking of bidding for data from people’s lifestyle devices such as FitBit. In addition, Datacoup co-founder and CEO Matt Hogan also lays claim to ethical motives, stressing that he wants to give people a means of tapping the market for information about their activities and deciding for themselves where to sell.
Towards greater transparency on data use?
In addition, the start-up offers people a platform where they can analyse their own personal data by category: place, profession, health, purchases, and so on, and can thus map their associations and focuses of interest. People can already earn up to $100 a month by selling their data – San Diego company Luth Research mainly collects data on web browsing – but, points out Donald Waldman, an Economics Professor at the University of Colorado, it is interesting to see just how high – or low – a value people place on data privacy. While all this data provides companies with opportunities to target their marketing more accurately, most users are blissfully unaware of just how their data is being used. So your favourite online retailer might use your data as a basis for deciding to hide discounts from you and instead dangle more expensive products in front of your eyes – one more good reason why consumers might start calling for companies to be more open about how they are using your data, underlines Professor Waldman.