3 New Ways Data Brokers are Making $ Off Your Data

3 New Ways Data Brokers are Making $ Off Your Data


Can anyone name the industry that generated two times the amount of the entire United States intelligence budget in 2012?

If you didn’t guess “Data Brokering”, than you should probably know that almost $200 billion is generated by data brokers who collect, analyze, package and sell some of our most sensitive personal information (usually without us knowing) to all sorts of third-party companies who in turn offer “business insights” from extrapolating this information.

The advancement in mobile technology has undoubtedly been a catalyst in the growth of data brokering, as almost one-fifth of Americans use their device to access online services and information and for staying connected to the world around them.

Of course, all of that online behavior is then collected, tracked and monitored by companies such as Acxiom, LexisNexis and a bunch of other companies with obscure names and discreet practices.

While retailers and data brokers have always used technology to better understand customer behavior, the growth of mobile technology has opened the doors for new and innovative methods to acquire consumer data, with or without consent.

Below are three new ways that data brokers will be able to make profit from your information in 2016:


Wearable Tech


Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, and Smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear are all part of the growing trend of wearable technology. These devices are worn as clothing or as an accessory to track health and fitness data. In fact, 1 out of 10 people now have some form of wearable tech that allows them to quantifiably track the results of their day and that number is set to rise in the New Year.

However, the user isn’t the only one who has access to their “personal” metrics. The companies that sell these products will in turn sell the health-related data they harvest to insurance companies. Why insurance companies? Because they would like to use these wearable devices to track fitness behavior and better determine how to insure you! Companies, such as Nike, could then be incentivized to share the vast amount of data they have access to, while the average consumer is oblivious to the millions of dollars shelled out to learn how many miles you ran this week.

So while these devices may keep you motivated to achieve your fitness goals, keep in mind that your goals and the steps you take to reach them are being tracked, analyzed and sold to the highest bidder.


Virtual Reality


This year’s launch of the Samsung Gear VR (virtual reality) marked the dawn of commercially accessible VR experiences.

Consumers can now bring an augmented reality experience with them wherever and whenever they want, which will lead to new and valuable insights for data brokers to bid off. Built-in eye tracking technology of VR products like the Oculus Rift, allow advertisers and data brokers alike to know what consumers are looking at, when they are looking at them and for how long.

This backend data is essentially what most companies wish they could collect for traditional mediums such as billboards and print ads. VR analytics offer a reliable way to track viewability, albeit in a virtual world dictated by ad dollars.

Predictably, this information will be collected and stored by the companies who manage the products and sold through data brokers to various advertisers and marketers. With eye-tracking analysis studies often being expensive to conduct, the commercialization of VR will create a convenient and readily available source for this type of personal information, which will be sure to draw top dollars from data brokers everywhere.

Internet of Things (IoT)


In a previous post I discussed the impact of the IoT, so if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a good place to start.

Basically the IoT is the interconnectivity between things using wireless communication technology (each with their own unique identifiers) to connect objects, locations, animals, or people to the Internet, thus allowing for the direct transmission of and seamless sharing of data.

In layman’s terms, this means that we could start to see everyday products such as refrigerators, ovens, thermostats, light bulbs, etc. come equipped with wireless sensors that are then able to communicate information to other connected devices.

Access to this type of information could lead to a world with only relevant and timely advertising based on individual consumer wants, needs and habits.

Over the next decade, the IoT market could potentially generate as much as $11 trillion a year with much of that money coming in the form of big data sales. Tech-giant Cisco stated that the rise of IoT could start “a surge in connections of people, process, data and things that could reach 50bn by the end of the decade.”

Nova Spivack, chief executive of big-data mining company Bottlenose, states that “The internet of things represents a major data opportunity” and that “there’s just no other data opportunity that comes close.”

Companies will typically tout that the data obtained from these connected devices will benefit users in the long run. However, it is hard to ignore the intrusive nature of multiple points of data access as fixtures in the confines of your own home.

It begs the question: are these companies really looking to make our lives easier or are they simply trying to make top dollar off of the vast amounts of personal information they can obtain about us?


Paranoid yet? Or are you looking for a piece of the action? Let me know how you feel about these new ways data brokers are mining data gold from us or if you think there are other ways I may have missed!


Top 3 SEO Trends for 2016

Top 3 SEO Trends for 2016

Search engine optimizers have seen a lot of changes in 2015.

From Google deeming mobile-optimized sites as equals to their desktop counterparts, to digital assistants changing how consumers search and even social content becoming more valuable to search indexing “spiders,” there are sure to be some big shifts in how companies approach optimizing content for the web in 2016.

With the New Year upon us, here are some trends to look for in the realm of SEM:

Rise in “Natural Language” Search Queries Thanks to Mobile Assistants

Digital assistants such as Google Now, Cortana and Siri are changing the search habits of consumers, shifting towards more of a spoken language query versus a typed query. For example, instead of typing “Tampa mechanic” in a search engine most people will simply say “Ok Google, find me a mechanic in Tampa to help me with my brakes.” Most searches will mimic spoken dialogue and the companies that adopt the “long tail” effect of natural language search queries will see the results as search engines will adopt and rank conversational content higher.

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Google says Mobile Sites > Desktop Sites

Earlier this year, Google announced a change in its search algorithm, which essentially placed more value on mobile-friendly sites and decreased the visibility of non-mobile-friendly sites. Even John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst for the company, said you don’t need a desktop website as a mobile-first site will suffice in terms of page rank.

With this change in how sites are indexed, mobile-optimization will become more important than ever, as mobile searches officially surpassed desktops queries this year. Look for companies to place more emphasis on mobile content and promotion of their mobile apps and sites.

Social Content on Equal Footing

Nowadays when you search for news updates, you’ll more than likely see tweets from credible news outlets or reporters pop up first. Thanks to separate deals between Google and social media giants Facebook and Twitter, social content will be on equal footing rank-wise with any independent web page. The trend will continue into 2016 with more platforms joining the page rank competition of relevancy. It will become harder and harder to separate “social content” from “web content” in terms of SEO.

As these trends become more evident in the New Year, what will you do in order to make sure your SEM strategy is ready for 2016?

Digital Storytelling in a ‘Snap’

Digital Storytelling in a ‘Snap’

“Stories are the way humans make sense of the world”

– Cameron Uganec, Director of Marketing at HootSuite

As a marketer it should be common knowledge by now that consumers gravitate towards brands that offer authentic, storytelling experiences rather than those simply spouting off product benefits.

And of course, the major catalyst in the growth of branded storytelling is the rise of social media, since storytelling in itself has always been a socially driven activity.

Most often, companies will play out there branded stories on common social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram; however more and more marketers are turning to Snapchat to produce daily stories that engage and excite audiences.

Here are a couple of reasons why:

The most exciting tool that Snapchat offers is its “Stories” feature, which is simply a series of snaps that are strung together to create a story (hence the title) available to view for up to 24 hours. The expiration of these messages gives brands the opportunity to tell a new and engaging story each day, whereas TV commercials often become a part of the background noise to most consumers.

Yo Quiero Snapchat

Taco Bell was one of the first brands to use Snapchat as a means to connect with an increasingly digitized, millennial consumer.

In fact, the brand’s first snap on the platform was used to announce the return of the popular Beefy Crunch Burrito


Since then, Taco Bell has become a front-runner when it comes to using the ghost-faced social platform to connect with consumers by using creative and innovative storytelling approaches.

Ever seen a movie, 10 seconds at a time? Taco Bell made a bold move when it chose to announce the flavor of the new Doritos Locos Taco through a branded short film shot entirely on Snapchat.

The short film was the first of its kind and resulted in over 70,000 users adding the brand on Snapchat in a single day, making it the most followed brand on the platform. The campaign also went on to win a social media Webby Award for “Best Use of Video.”

‘Snap’ to it

While most companies do not have the ingenuity or resources to take on such a feat, the main point is that Snapchat is an excellent platform to tell your brand story in an innovative way, while at the same time increasing community engagement.

However, it all starts with baby steps. Here are some quick ways to start incorporating branded storytelling through Snapchat:

Provide Access to Exclusive Events

If your company is a part of a popular yet exclusive event, get your audience excited by making them feel a part of the event by showcasing the occasion through Snapchat. The NBA did exactly that during the 2014 NBA Finals.


Show How Your Product Comes to Life

Snapchat is a great tool to showcase how your product is made from start to finish. This type of sneak peak really allows audiences to appreciate the work that goes into making a quality product. While this video is sourced from Instagram, New Belgium Brewery’s streak plate video shows consumers the science involved in the creation of their favorite beer and would make an excellent snap.

Make the Message Meaningful

The old adage goes that a picture says a thousand words. So make those words meaningful and establish an emotional connection with your Snaps. The World Wildlife Federation did exactly that with their #LastSelfie Snapchat campaign

In the ever-evolving world of social media, you never know when the next game-changing platform will take hold, so ‘Snap’ to it and start telling your brand story!

Use “IoT” to help your ROI

Use “IoT” to help your ROI


In the (not so distant) Future….

Your smart watch starts to ring and it looks like the company that installed your new dishwasher is calling:

“Hello Mr./Ms. [insert your name here], we received a service request from your dishwashing unit today. We’re calling to let you know we resolved the issue and ran the current load. For any inconvenience, we’ve emailed you a coupon for Cascade Platinum detergent.”

The aforementioned situation takes place in a not so distant future and illustrates a potential tactic that will be possible for marketers through the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Simply put, IoT is the interconnectivity between things using wireless communication technology (each with their own unique identifiers) to connect objects, locations, animals, or people to the internet, thus allowing for the direct transmission of and seamless sharing of data.

Current consumer-facing examples of IoT technologies include the Apple Watch, Nike Fuelband, Google Glass and Fitbit. These products share the data of consenting consumers with companies that use that data to help identify their target market with greater detail than ever before.

So what does the rise of the IoT mean for marketers? A physically interconnected world translates into endless marketing possibilities, however we’ll just key in on a few here.

Instant Consumer Feedback


So you finally launched that product your CEO has been grinding your team over and within a few, short days, he or she is already asking how consumers are reacting to it.

Thankfully, your product was integrated with IoT technology allowing you to receive real time feedback from customers as soon as they begin to use it. Having access to this type of data will allow you to know early on whether or not a product is performing well with consumers almost instantly.

This immediate knowledge can make the difference between holding onto a fledgling product for too long and losing your ROI or seeing the start of a success and shifting resources to help support the product’s growth.

Premeditated Warning


It’s Saturday morning and you hop in your car so you can go and take care of the litany of errands you have on your to-do list. Within minutes, black smoke erupts out of the hood of your car and you find yourself stuck on the side of the road, the whole day shot.

With the help of smart-enabled devices, products that require maintenance, like a car, would be able to self-diagnose themselves with lightning speed and take proactive steps to help remedy any technical issues before breaking down down. For instance, if a part is broken, an IoT connected device could send a signal that orders a replacement from a local vendor and have it shipped to a consumer before even noticing the product was broken, similar to the dishwasher example earlier.

Preventing this downtime would help increase customer satisfaction and allow marketers to gain insights about the problems that may plague their consumers.

Make Irrelevant Advertising, Irrelevant


With over 4.9 billion connected things this year alone (with some predicting that by 2020, the number of Internet-connected things will reach or even exceed 50 billion), it shouldn’t be surprising that everyday items in your home will soon be outfitted with sensors and network accessibility.

Undoubtedly, this type of intimate data collection will lead to personalized and relevant advertising served in very untraditional ways. Similar to the dishwasher scenario outlined in the “not so distant future,” your home will be able to track when an appliance or feature needs repair and only serve you ads relevant to that need. Or say your light bulb goes out all of a sudden; you might receive a digital coupon straight to your smartphone.

IoT will allow marketers to spend thousands of dollars less on irrelevant commercials and banner ads and instead use in depth consumer data to gain a detailed understanding about consumer interests and behaviors in order to serve up efficient and relevant advertising.

With the future upon us, how will you incorporate the Internet of Things in your marketing strategies?