There is a marketing technique sometimes called Social Graphing.
i.e The collection of available personal information that is collated for use in an automated process that is designed to categorise people into types, groups, common units, etc
It has been described as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”.
In May 2011, technology blogger mrkoot, demonstrated that the user data available for analysis from Google is only limited by the technology that we use to search and collect it; and we can continue to refine these until we find what we want. (His blog is worth a read if you are interested in privacy erosion)
Marketeers have tools and techniques that can assist us in the search for meaning in the data. This means that an analyst with reasonable skills can quickly sort a long list of possible relationships into a much shorter list of probable ones.
With the development of these techniques, privacy erosion seems to be creeping up slowly as a sort of by-product. i.e. The gradual improvement in availability and linkages between datasets is continually creating more possibilities for aggregating marketing information. This can also be used to build complex profiles of an individual and their activities; and the primary limit to this is the imagination and talent of the analyst.
Social Graphing also uses the concept of synergy. i.e. the whole is more than the sum of its parts; it makes the development of new information relationships possible and these information relationships are formed without the subjects’ permission or knowledge. We may have contributed information about ourselves freely to a number of separate databases but it is unlikely that we will have anticipated the effect of merging the data, especially where that merger might reveal something more about us.
Put simply, when there are more connections between more datasets we can build a more comprehensive picture, either in aggregate for a population, or in detail for an individual.
Marketeers’ should be aware that marketing connections have the potential to reduce customer privacy as a by-product of their work. This could generate enough mistrust and undermine the long term customer relationship.
Have a great week.
About the Author: Adam Blackie is the author of Your Digital Personality and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with CEO’s and their Boards in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.