Big data is increasingly used to narrowly target consumers with information or messages that are most likely to appeal to them. However, at a time when consumers are increasingly concerned about the way that companies collect and use their personal information, data-driven content and advertising offer a way for companies to let people see how that information is being used.

No trust without honesty

As in any field, transparency builds trust. More than that, it effectively addresses the consumers’ concern that they give up more value by letting companies collect their personal information than they receive in return.

While most people who sign a “terms and conditions” page understand that they are offering their personal information in exchange for a “free” service, research has revealed that consumers are concerned about sacrificing their right to privacy: In a survey conducted by The Participant Index (TPI) Impact Panel and Nielsen on behalf of BSR, 91 percent of those who participated said the collection, storage, and security of consumer information data is an important issue.

Tell the users what you do and why it’s good for them

By aggregating the data in a responsible way that preserves the privacy of individual users, and provides insight based on the patterns revealed through that aggregation, brands can help customers understand how their data is being used.

The debate about the commercial use of big data is split: Some believe big data presents privacy concerns, and others believe that big data, used smartly, can enhance the consumer experience by providing relevant advertising.

The use of data to improve ad targeting and the user experience represents an opportunity for growth for the industry, but transparent practices are important to retain consumer trust. When it comes to big data, advertisers who provide clear, accessible information and frequent updates about how data are collected and used are more likely to win the favor of consumers and regulators.

BehaviourExchange – how it’s done

>Find out more about BehaviourExchange

As a company that is well aware of the importance of transparency and trust, BehaviourExchange – a platform for web user profiling and real-time content customization – has based its entire business model on mutual benefit.

BehaviourExchange uses Big Data to create anonymous user profiles and ‘recognize’ a visitor the moment he enters a website, thus making it possible for a website to automatically adjust its content and ads to the visitor’s interests, personal characteristics, likely needs, and preferences.

In a time when users are constantly bombarded by countless ads on every website they visit, all trying to sell them something, this approach offers a much less invasive means of consumer communication. Users get to see more of what they are interested in and less junk advertising, not aimed at them in the first place. They can immediately find relevant products and services, tailored to their needs, instead of getting bombarded with irrelevant content and ads.

For B2C businesses, this means they can address their consumers in a more direct and cost-efficient way, without shooting in the dark with ad campaigns, based on unreliable targeting. With BehaviourExchange, B2C businesses will know the demographic and psychographic characteristics of their customers so they can create a positive, targeted, proactive and consequently much more successful interaction with them in real time.

Websites that decide to participate in the BehaviourExchange network are offered a free service of exchanging traffic with thousands of partner websites, which hugely expands their reach.

This way, BehaviourExchange proves that Big Data, when used responsibly and transparently, can benefit all parties involved in the process – and not only the tech giants, as is the case with Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

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