5 Marketing Privacy Issues You Should Know
Marketing is quite easily one of the most dynamic professional practices. This is based on the fact that human behavior changes with time and with the advancement in technology, marketers struggle to adapt their messages to a demographic that is changing rapidly in order to remain relevant. The internet of course, has had a huge impact on the way marketing messages are crafted and then put across to the consumers. However, in using the medium provided by the internet, marketers also face a big challenge because there are some issues that crop up. These issues are serious as they affect the lives of the consumers so much so that governments have been compelled to legislate on them to eradicate or at the very least, mitigate their effects. These issues include the following:
- Use of Tracking Devices: A number of companies have adopted or experimented with the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags for tracking the shipment of products to customers. The use of these tracking devices is meant to ensure that the products ordered are tracked at each point of the distribution chain as well as to speed up the rate of delivery. Gillette used such devices in 2006 during the launch of its new Fusion razor. Coca-cola also used tracking devices in the some cans of their products as part a promo while Gillette also proposed the use of these devices in some of Mach 3 razor blades to prevent shoplifting. While these marketing and security purposes may sound genuine, the privacy of the consumer is still at stake.
- Children’s Online Privacy: The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal Act took effect in 2000. The purpose of this Act was to ensure that child driven websites obtain parental consent before extracting personal information from children below the age of 13. While this has taken effect, there are also other media targeted at children such as the popular ‘advergaming’ which is the inclusion of marketing messages in video or online game environments. It has been argued that this allows marketers to gather personal information from children who register on gaming websites to play such games.
- Adware: Adware are software applications that are downloaded knowingly or otherwise by internet users and serve messages from advertisers usually in the form of pop-ups. The government agencies have acted quite aggressively against adware companies and in one instance, the office of the New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer in 2006 took action against one such company, Direct Revenue. The company had installed adware on consumers’ computers without providing them with adequate fore-knowledge.
- Buzz Marketing: Popularly known as ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing, buzz marketing has also drawn criticisms as companies now seek to stimulate ‘buzz’ about their products by paying some people to act as advocates. These ‘advocates’ do not disclose the nature of their relationship to the consumers and encourage them to part with personal information that would benefit the company’s marketing. There have been representations made to the Federal Trade Commission regarding companies that have engaged in such practices especially in promotions targeted at teenagers and children as they are more susceptible to such tactics.
- Data Collection and Security: In the course of conducting searches on the internet, search engines and portals collate personal information regarding what the person browsing. This is usually for marketing reasons but then the push now is for those information to be destroyed within reasonable time particularly if is no longer needed.
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