Nineteenth-century Philadelphia retailer John Wanamaker allegedly said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” But that was in the nineteenth century, no way this is still a problem today, right?
No way Amazon wastes money advertising Audible to me while my annual subscription is active for the last 4 years.
No way Booking wastes money advertising a hotel to me while I've booked it already yesterday.
No way Youtube wastes money advertising Youtube to me while I am watching Youtube.
It's everywhere, so much money wasted on redundant, non-relevant marketing. And the reason for that - no one wants to share data. Ok, maybe not "the reason" but definitely a reason. Data is such a sensitive topic even mentioning sharing data more is asking for trouble. And yet, sharing anonymised data securely could solve many problems for marketers and consumers alike.
We all worry companies know more and more about us. But have you ever checked what exactly those companies think they know about you? Once I stumbled upon this Google page. At first, I didn't understand what am I looking at. It appeared to be a random list of topics, demographic data and websites. Then it dawned on me - that's what Google thinks I am interested in. This seemingly random list of things is what their system identified as my search preferences. In other words, that's what Google knows about me. And two-thirds of this data was not correct. That means some advertising dollars spent on me were wasted.
And that's Google, the biggest and probably the smartest advertising platform in the world. What could be said about all others? What do they know and how much of what they think they know is not correct?
We need an open, anonymised and secure system to share advertising data between businesses.
I don't mind ads, sometimes I even welcome ads when those are timely, relevant and personalised. Ads help me choose and ads pay for so many free services I enjoy. What I and probably many others, hate is bad ads. Intrusive, dumb, pointless. No one wants such ads but that's what we see when companies don't share data.
Booking doesn't share data with Google so the latter shows me the ads for the hotel I've just reserved.
Audible doesn't share data with Amazon (why? they're the same company!) so the latter promotes subscription to me needlessly.
So much money is wasted because everyone sits on their own little pile of majorly incorrect data.
Wouldn't it be better if companies could share ads preference data? If instead of silloying the data, it could be available, secure and we would own it. We should be able to see our data, make changes and decide who should have access to it.
When the data is available, accurate and up-to-date, companies could serve better ads, less annoying ads, something we could actually click and buy.
Maybe then Johns Wanamakers of today could say “Third of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which third.”