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“Your data is not yours.”

If you sit and ponder about it (without the buttered popcorn bucket in your hand), that’s when you realize how scary that is. Anyone can sniff out any detail about you, without your knowledge. They can misuse your data. We cannot keep brushing this off. You need to have the authority of “who sees what” about you out there. It’s time for a change.

Any typical website runs multiple ad requests and trackers in attempts to gather information about the user. This breaches the consumer’s trust and negatively impacting the user experience. Users’ data is being treated like commodity buying and selling.

You have no control over what information is being sent out there and how it is being used. A lot of this is hidden in plain sight and users do not have much of an idea. This type of data that is scored or purchased from other resources is called third-party data.

A majority of the population is aware of their data being collected and they are not happy about this. They don’t think that it’s justified for the brands to track their data and use it to target ads. And least to say, a major chunk of the consumers use at least one privacy-protecting tool. This comes after the tools which are clearing browsing histories and cookies. These measures save them from the tornado of targeted ads.

We know the issue. The third-party cookies are going obsolete, slowly. There will be immense reforms in the field of digital marketing which will enhance the user experience. This will bring in more thought and efforts from the brands thus improving the overall scenario.

Zero-party data, a term originated by the Forrester research, is the data that the consumers willingly and actively share with the brands while being in control of their information. Apart from the fact that this is surely going to build upon the smooth user experience, it is going to raise the trust of the consumers in the brand thus helping them grow.

Organisations need to think about the authenticity and usefulness of the data they’re collecting. This can help them in structuring their approach towards data collection. Providing the consumers with the real value in exchange for their data is the kind of data brands need to “earn”. The question that arises now is “how to ensure the consumers about their privacy protection? How to make them comfortable about disclosing their information?”

Maintaining transparency. No games of disguise. They should know about how their data is going to be treated, in simple words. No unnecessary jargon to confuse them into revealing their information.

Another way that might help is to be clear about “what” information to ask for/collect. This will help you get a clear idea of what you have and how you are going to use it. Avoid collecting everything you can get your hands on, thus creating a chaotic mess.

Consumers should be part of a fair and just exchange here. They need to get the benefits they deserve in return for the crucial information they provide. A simple and meaningful trade-off. This whole deal of collecting data to provide better services should be justified and purposeful. Constructing long-term relationships with the consumers is one of the biggest assets for the brands. Loyal customers are an investment. Their contribution to the brand’s growth is worthwhile.

This is a learning curve for the marketing world. Reforming their ways and putting in their brains to make the process of data collection and consumer satisfaction more efficient. Brands need to shift their orbit. Think in the direction to increase clean engagement and take more interest in understanding the existing and potential customers.

This “zero-party data” gives us a peek into what the world without those annoying, soul-sucking, popping-up everywhere ads would look like. And it sure is blissful, isn’t it?

“Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite”-Marlon Brando.