How to get paid for sticking it to Mark Zuckerberg

Big data.

Most of us haven’t a clue what it means, but we know we should be afraid of it. Mutter something about Edward Snowden, evil corporations and isn’t it totally mad how robots are taking over the world?

And then we hop back onto Facebook and carry on with our lives.

Nicholas Oliver tried to pull us from our precipice of ignorance during his Innovation Week talk today, but there wasn’t a hint of the condescension or apocalyptic fear mongering one has come to expect from these ‘The World Is Changing’ type of events. Perhaps it’s because, unlike the usual prophets, Oliver comes to us with a solution. His start-up People.io is “a digital platform where people can license their personal data and attention to brands, in return for payment.” In other words, People.io wants people – not companies – to own their personal data.

If it sounds obvious that people would own their personal information, then you might have been as perturbed as I was at Oliver’s insistence that the NSA only had half the information as advertisers do now. Yet we click ‘accept cookies’ mindlessly. Not that that’s our fault of course: privacy information is obscured within terms and conditions and companies deliberately mystify the subject with lingo, in the same way that Wall Street did in the lead up to the big crash with its ‘subprime loans’ and acronyms that stood for We Are Screwing You And You Have No Idea.

And look how that turned out. Oliver drew his own financial world comparison with the PPI scandal. Ombudsmen got involved and banks had to pay out millions. When the courts enforce GDPR and demand repayment to all those who submit their data unwillingly, how will that affect businesses? Even for Facebook, that’s got to hurt.

Oliver promises that advertisers can save data from PPI–like doom. By capturing information with transparency and integrity, brands enter a relationship of trust with their customers. And of course that’s great news for brands too: trusting relationships share the most useful, intimate information. Shoe brands that follow you around the internet because you looked at them once are nothing but weird strangers. Time to send them on their way.

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Dani works as a creative in OMD’s creative team.

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