There are a lot of privacy issues with targeted ads. Is it the same with influencers?

Targeted ads are a privacy violation. But what about influencer endorsements?

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No, not at all. Unlike targeted ads that are ‘pushed’ out to consumers, people opt in to influencer content by following their accounts. Influencers don’t import your info, collect your email address, or gather data on you. You see their content when you choose to. This makes influencer marketing much better than ads for privacy.

Interesting debate

Every targeted ad is a privacy violation and constitutes the sale of personal data. Every ad you see that was targeted using personal data is a privacy violation. Renting out your personal data is no better than outright selling it. Facebook and Google make more money than anyone through this regime of abuse. Thus they must face the bulk of our scrutiny.

Privacy is a hot topic and it touches us all, wherever we live and whatever part of the political spectrum we find ourselves on.

When we think “privacy” we usually envision brands such as Google, Facebook, T-Mobile, and iOT devices like Alexa and Google Home, and/or all kinds of branded websites and apps. They all work up-n-down, left-n-right, all day long, 24hrs, tracking our steps, movements and then – yes – sell or share that information too.

But what about social media influencers – those are today’s alternative to branding channels and to media ads. Where do they stand on the privacy front? Do we need to be concerned about privacy when an influencer agrees to endorse a brand? It’s a very interesting topic that is overlooked. Yet, it should be discussed!

Rights we have.

I want to start by stating the obvious – it’s ok to have “big brothers” around us, as long as we agree to that. WE HAVE RIGHTS – the right to be asked if we are tracked, the right to be asked if our info is for sale. And yet we aren’t asked in many cases.

For eg., what if Google Assistant-maps-health-Sprint phone apps will find out we are suddenly walking slower and sells that change of data to insurance company, which – as a result – increases our insurance premium? This is very concerning, right?

Yet the ads are still tracking us….:

Targeted ads are a privacy violation

We should listen to what DHH has to say about ads. He knows, because he is a world-class software coder. Listen to what he has concluded:

Privacy. Every targeted ad is a privacy violation and constitutes the sale of personal data. Every ad you see that was targeted using personal data is a privacy violation. Renting out your personal data is no better than outright selling it. Facebook and Google make more money than anyone through this regime of abuse. Thus they must face the bulk of our scrutiny.
“Every targeted ad is a privacy violation and constitutes the sale of personal data”, DHH says. He KNOWS, he is the brain behind Ruby On Rails.

Currently brands are using targeted Ads. This means they violate – per DHH’s argument – our privacy, for years now.

It will come as no surprise then that we are very concerned from about where ads come from, what they do to track us with their “cookies,” what are they selling exactly? And to whom?

Influencer endorsements do NOT violate any of our privacy

Social media influencers – on the other hand – do not. They do not track your movement. They do not collect emails, they do not hack your phone number, geo location (only your permanent location, as general stats, see below), they don’t even compiled our names. They can’t – even if they want to – sell our data, as they have no access to it. Instead, they just build a community…

Here is a screen shot I took from the account of a character I’ve created, who is a social media influencer (Dear Mishu, based on my dog, if you want to know…):

That’s all the data the influencer gets about you… not your address, not your history, not your heart beat “progress”, not how many times a day you eat, not your son’s name … No privacy issues!

Brands hire Influencers to tell their stories without even considering how doing so will improve their reputation regarding privacy. But it will!

Brands: switching to emotional connections and building loyalty can be achieved differently

Brands – although they were told that emotional connection with their community is most important – have mostly ignored people’s emotions of despair about the privacy issues associated with the ads they buy from Google/Facebook/Etc.

I read a lot of executives’ posts on Linkedin – they all talk about CRM here, customer relationship is most important there, But…when it comes to the nitty gritty, they don’t do anything different in this regard.

Perhaps that’s because they saw that everyone does the same thing and concluded that it’s ok if they do too. Perhaps they thought it’s ok to violate our privacy. Perhaps they thought there were no other ways for them to sell their stories besides those targeted ads.

Advertisements were the only method available for digital marketing until recently….

Not anymore, though, targeted advertisement is not the only option. Now, more and more brands are turning to social media to find new ways to do business. When they are there, they see the community leaders that have already built trust with their followers. They can build on that and ask for their endorsements. Now brands have another, even better, reason to contract influencers — no privacy issues, which means that they can show more empathy toward and gain a better connection with the community.

This is really good news to tell everyone – your influencers do not have any personal data about you, so there is no privacy issue. That’s such a positive approach. That’s a huge selling point for the influencer marketing industry. Tell the world about it and stick to those ways to connect with your audience that don’t violate their privacy!

How to start

The best way is to ask your audience, like Joe Graceffa did brilliantly:

  • Influencer Marketing Works - 1
  • Influencer Marketing Works - 2
  • Influencer Marketing Works - 3
  • Influencer Marketing Works - 4
  • Influencer Marketing Works - 5

So… here is the takeaway: instead of co-operating with Google/Facebook/Amazon and the rest in spying on us, switch from targeted ads to influencer marketing if you care about… us.

Related:

If It Can’t Be Transactional, Then What Am I Getting from Influencer Marketing at All?





Sincerely yours,

Dear Mishu's Dad

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SMI* = Social Media Influencers


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DearMishuDad

I am the creator of Dear Mishu, a dog character that gives underdog advice to humans on social media. I originally built the account to learn about influencers and how they work. Over time, the account grew and Dear Mishu became a real social media influencer with a community of followers who ask her for advice. I use this experience and my 20 years of marketing experience to help brands understand how to reach their goals through Influencer Marketing and Social media branding.