Is the Consumer Really in Control?

//Is the Consumer Really in Control?
Is the Consumer Really in Control?2016-10-12T20:45:55+00:00

Transcript of my presentation at: The IAB Debate, London 16/8/2007

  • As you have been wondering around London today you have probably appeared on 300 separate video streams from one of millions of CCTV cameras.
  • The fact we are here in Soho means those cameras have also recorded everything we said.
  • Not only was every transaction you made by debit or credit card recorded today
    • but every movement you made through the London underground system
    • every email, or text you sent on your mobile…
  • Our society is obsessed with collecting “Data”
  • And I want to put it to you that he, who owns the data, owns the power. Power that ultimately ‘controls’.
  • In the early days of the web, millions of pounds were poured into web start-ups from big financial backers
    • Then the dot.com crash happened in 2000 and sent every investor scattering to the walls.
  • Why? Because the whole industry was built on the speculative value of “Data”
    • An invisible digital commodity that no-one was quick enough to prove how to turn into hard cash.
  • Then Privacy Groups screamed ‘Big Brother’ – people freaked as they realised companies behind the websites knew things about them, and we started talking about ‘identity theft’
    • But that was before the value of Amazon commending things and making my life more convenient.
    • That was before 9/11 and 7/7 and questions about surveillance – after all “I have nothing to hide”.
    • It was before blogging and My Space and Facebook, where people pour out personal details and actively encourage others to watch them.
  • Consumers don’t seem to mind any more as they ‘feel’ in control – that is until someone sees a comment on face book and walks out of a relationship, is sacked or has their bank account by someone harvesting this “data”. That is before they realise a suspicious boss or spouse can use a website to a find out where I really am by typing in my mobile phone number…
  • Listen to what Tim O’Reilly says this April – Tim’s the guy who invented the term Web 2.0
    • The major theme of web 2.0 that people haven’t yet tweaked to is really about data and who owns and controls, or gives the best access to, a class of data. Amazon is now the definitive source for data about whole sets of consumer products. EBay is the authoritative source for the secondary market of those products. Google is the authority for information about facts, but they’re relatively undifferentiated
    • A lot of people still think, “Oh, it’s about social networking. It’s about blogging. It’s about wikis.” I think it’s about the data that’s created by those mechanisms, and the businesses that that data will make possible
  • And he is not alone, 50% of the UK carry a Nectar Loyalty cards – rewarding me with a half-penny in every pound as I choose to give away my anonymity and allows someone to watch. And what have supermarkets done with that data? They have worked out that putting nappies, tampons and beer in close vicinity – actually result in sale of more beer, as people rush in to buy these ‘emergency’ items.
  • Or consider the 10M London commuters who have got an Oyster Card. Rather then reward me for letting me be tracked by a magic bit of plastic, they turn the loyalty model on its head and actually penalise me for not being tracked. Hike up the cash prices of paper tickets and say I have to go to a mainline station at certain hours of the day if you want weekly paper ticket – damn inconvenient, but hey, I still have choice to opt-out. Faster, cheaper, smarter – maybe – consumer in control it ain’t!
  • And when you think that every product in Tesco’s is getting bugged by those same magic RFIDs that are in Oyster cards and then councils start putting readers in bins… when you consider the DVLA recently said all car number plates must carry the same chips… I’m not sure I know who actually is in control?
  • Whilst us in digital media pat ourselves on the back talking about profitability of the digital media chasing TV budgets – ask yourself this question – What do Google and MSN know that you don’t?
    • Or maybe I should rephrase that – what would you rather they didn’t know?
  • After all they have spent practically $10 billion this year between them acquiring certain technologies. Let me say that again – ten-billion-dollars.
  • That may sound like the craziness of the investment pre-dot.com crash days. But this time it is different. We now know how to turn “data” into “cash” and it’s called behavioural advertising.
  • Why do you think Google wants a finger into the TV, Radio, Press and Outdoor pies? Because form the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed, and even whilst I dream if it is possible – whether at work, watching TV or walking past some billboard – they want to know where you are and what you are looking at in order to stick a relevant advert in front of my face in order to influence you towards those brands paying their advertising dollars.
  • Remember the Gap Poster in Minority Report – “Good afternoon, Mr. Yakamoto, how did you like that three-pack of tank tops you bought last time you were in?” Science fiction or marketing fact?
  • Last year MINI USA sent Mini Copper owners bugged key fobs. When they drove past certain billboards in San Francisco, imagine the shock when they saw “Hi Jim, nice weather, take the roof down”
    • Microsoft already has the technology.
  • Think of the potential profit for shareholders as we waste less on scatter-gun ad campaigns.
  • Every time I register or login, personalise my homepage, click on an ad or do a search, change the channel or throw something in the bin – the system knows what you have just done, and can serve you the next advert in sequence – did you like that product, how about I give you 10% off the next?
  • Fast-forward to the Symantec Web 3.0 – technology will not know what you have last done, but even predict what you will do next – imagine the Amazon website then!
  • This year Google and MSN respond to public backlash saying can only keep data for 18 months – assuming I never visit their site again during that time! I’m sorry I thought DoubleClick were told they couldn’t store stuff back in 2001… how times have changed.
  • Probably because in 2006 the European Union passed the Data Retention Directive requiring telecommunication operators (including your local friendly ISP or mobile phone company) to implement mass surveillance of the general public and to give it up with out even a warrant
  • Let me read Tim’s quote again “A lot of people still think, “Oh, it’s about social networking. It’s about blogging. It’s about wikis.” I think it’s about the data that’s created by those mechanisms, and the businesses that that data will make possible”
  • Yes users may have choice, but they also want convenience and relevance and reward
    • And for that they are prepared to hand over control.
  • When I go up those escalators at Tottenham Court tube station and those little screens on the wall start saying “Hi Dean, bet you would really fancy a Starbucks skinny Caramel Macchiato right now, turn left when you walk out of the exit” I wonder if I can honestly answer this – Am I as a consumer really in control?

Random Thoughts

  • Convenience + Choice / Fear = Control!!!
  • The oldest technique in sales – make them feel like they have come up with answer all by themselves: ”That one really is nice and can see why you like it – just a shame you don’t have that extra £150 because this one over here really is special and perfect for you”
  • We all like to think we are in control, but I put it to you that though we as consumers may have convenience and choice, but do you really think we have ‘control?’
  • User generated content – its allowing them to go about their lives, doing whatever you want, anywhere you want, but all the time tracking them… and only pouncing when they step out of line, but who defines the “line”?
  • People want to feel in control yet are willingly handing over that control to a system that is clearly out of control.
    • Addiction is about control – Something beyond the consumer is in control.
    • Regulation is about control – Trying to bring some order back again, but at what cost, what motive?
  • Someone one day will say “It’s your fault, you created SkyNet!”
  • People want to be convinced, influenced, not drugged!
  • Choose content – more choice does not equal more control!!
  • People still want to be led, herd mentality, do you click on link someone sends you for YouTube or do you search?!
    • People always want people to create good content and tell them about it…
  • Democracy v Dictatorship
    • Democracy – I can vote, but herd = winner – then they do something did not want them to do, so am I really in control?
    • Dictator only gets there because we let him, because he is stronger somehow…
  • We pass over Control every day of our lives…