Monday, January 09, 2006

Larry Page missing the point. Entirely.

Despite a grand entrance in a competition-winning robot car and lots of presentation fireworks, Larry Page's CES keynote offered a disappointing view into the great man's thinking. Particularly worrying was his reply to a question on Yahoo's lead in personalization and social networking: "The data that defines you socially isn't really that complicated, or that hard to collect."

Dead right, Larry, but missing the point completely. Marketers are not in the process of collecting data any more. Haven't been for a long time. Data are available in abundance, and especially if your business is Internet-based, there's simply no stopping the torrent of data that flows into your servers.

Marketers are not in the business of collecting data, Mr Google. They're in the business of collecting permission. Haven't you learned anything from the repeated privacy backlashes against Google's new product launches beta releases? Collecting data is easy, but what you really need is the subject's permission to use them. Without that, you have no data.

Ignoring, or even downplaying that fact shows a dangerous lack of insight into the way consumer data are used, and an even more dangerous lack of respect for your customers' wants and needs.

Today's consumers are increasingly privacy-conscious. One would think Google has found this out by now. Consumer data are the most powerful driver for any type of marketing activity, but if and only if the consumer is aware how you got them and has given you his blessing.

'Transparency' and 'Permission' are the main keywords here. They should be hewn in granite over the Googleplex entrance.

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