Man Sells Non-Personally Identifiable Information to Marketers on eBay
One could look at this eBay auction promising a marketer complete access to this person's non-personally identifiable information for a 30 day period so as to razor target the marketer's advertising as a joke or one could realize this is exactly what the future holds: people divulging detailed information about themselves and selling it to the highest bidding marketers in return for a promise to view all their advertising.
Is is so crazy to believe it could come to this? We think not. Fragmentation. Fatigue. The DVR. Social Media. Consumer-Generated Media. All this and much more have had a devastating effect on the ability of a marketer to effectively deliver their marketing message without paying increasing insane amounts of money to do so. We already have media auctions. Why not Consumer Auctions? Aside from the fact it's be an insane amount of work for a marketer to keep track of each individual bid (that is, until some such system is adopted to manage it), the notion of a "marketing agreement" between marketer and consumer is not as far fetched as it may seem.
With the increase in advertising tonnage, people simply increase their efforts to ignore the marketing sledge hammer that hangs above their head. And, they have an increasing array of tools with which to easily accomplish that avoidance. Would there be many people who would refuse to reduce the amount of advertising they see each day by 95 percent in return for providing profile non-personally identifiable information in return? Sure, there'd always be the privacy freaks but for the most part, many people might find this an acceptable compromise. As with everything, nothing happens over night. Years ago, people thought it odd and improbable to get cash from a machine as opposed to a bank-based human being.
How might such a Consumer Auction work? Instead of the traditional upfront focusing on bulk media buys, it might focus on the bulk sale of non-personally identifiable personal profiles which would then be fed into some elaborate, yet to be developed, media buying program which would then address only relevant advertising to the person on the buy. Yes, we already have addressable advertising but this goes far beyond that. The notion of "person on the buy" will supplant "channel/magazine/newspaper on the buy." After all, it's the right people marketers want. The media through which those people are reached becomes secondary in this consumer bid model. And yes, for you anti-auction folks, the quality of the media through which the individually identifiable person is reach will still matter. The two will simply be integrated together.
For this to work, of course, there'd have to be a major shift in the way media is bought and sold. It would make no sense for a person to offer up identifiable information, receive targeted advertising and then get the same old broad-based messaging as well because some marketers might still be employing old-school, megaphone marketing.
This eBay auction is a thought provoker. It's not the first. It won't be the last. But it does make one imagine a future where things are vastly different.