Consumers expect personalized experiences. Yet they also grate at attempts by marketers to collect personal data about them to deliver these personalized experiences. That’s a paradox that marketers increasingly have to navigate.
There’s a fine line between cool and creepy, between personalization and stalking.
For years, the default mode in marketing was to collect as much consumer data as possible, from as many sources as possible, and then infer what consumers might want. The result was not only frequently invasive, but often wrong. One Deloitte study reported that more than two-thirds of people stated that third-party data about them was only 0 to 50 percent correct (less accurate than a coin toss).
Marketers are starting to go on a data diet, changing from an emphasis on big data (collecting as much data as possible) to lean data (collecting only what delivers immediate value). But they’re also re-evaluating their data sources, shifting from third party data brokers to the data consumers willingly share about themselves directly to a brand.
Forrester coined the term “zero party data” for this volunteered data:
“Zero party data is that which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize her.”
Forrester analyst Fatemah Khatibloo recently shared that a typical publisher’s website has 500 ad requests and 54 trackers hoovering up third party user data. This not only harms the user experience (adding 20 seconds to page load times), it harms consumer trust.
In contrast, zero party data is transparent, contextually appropriate, and offers a fair value exchange. A consumer “intentionally” and “proactively” shares what she’s interested in with a brand and the personalized experience is directly based on what she shares.
As Fatemah put it,
“They know they’re going to get a better experience based on that zero party data versus something that’s been sniffed out about them on the web.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: