Digital Marketing Analytics in the Age of Surveillance

Digital analytics have come under the spotlight thanks to Edward Snowden, but the analytics used in the digital marketing industry are similar to those he exposed. So, in the age of surveillance, how can digital analytics remain uncontroversial?

People often joke that marketing analytics is like working for GCHQ, and that is often how it seems. There are many services that marketers use day in, day out, such as Meltwater and Hootsuite, which help us carry out work with incredible levels of detail.

And while marketers will only track people’s online moves so as to know what adverts to throw at them, the work of Edward Snowden has thrust this area into the limelight. The NSA whistleblower has won plaudits all over the globe for what he’s done, but you’re unlikely to see marketers being praised in the same way for revealing that Joe Bloggs shops at Sainsbury’s in a pair of Converse he bought on eBay.


PRISM has shed a very bright light on the area of analytics. Most people were aware that their online purchases were being tracked – it’s clear simply from looking at targeted Amazon adverts at the top of certain websites. But now that this area has been thrust into the limelight, there is a strong argument that the rules need to be changed.

Marketers all over the globe will argue that marketing analytics and surveillance is different, because it’s an innocent sales manoeuvre. But governments defend their surveillance by saying they’re trying to protect society.

We can’t have it both ways. Ultimately, if the data is being collected, there is no way of individuals knowing for absolute certain how it is going to be used.

No simple solution

There is no easy answer to the question of how marketers collect data without invading people’s privacy – but if we’re not happy with the government watching us, then we shouldn’t be watching others.


Source: Social Media Today


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