Use My Personal Data, But Don’t Offend Me

I’m fine with companies collecting my data; however, how about providing me something in return?

I’m fine with companies collecting my data; however, how about providing me something in return?

I’m a huge college football fan and watched most of the 41 bowl games that just wrapped up with Alabama beating Georgia in the second-best bowl game of the year, next to the Rose Bowl.

Nissan is a significant sponsor of college football. It runs commercials throughout the games and has spent a lot of money producing the humorous Heisman House series that appears before the kickoff of major games.

I noticed the addition of a five-second tag at the end of a few Nissan commercials, saying it was the official vehicle of “Duke Blue Devil” fans. I live in Raleigh, N.C. There are a lot more University of North Carolina (UNC), N.C. State University (NCSU), and East Carolina (ECU) alumni in Raleigh than Duke alumni.

I can only assume I was targeted to receive this tag with programmatic advertising because I have two degrees from Duke. You can pick this up from Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. However, if you look deeper at my profiles and posts, you’ll learn pretty quickly that I’m not a Duke fan, I’m a UNC fan because of Dean Smith — the person and the coach.

Instead of making me feel an affinity to Nissan, it alienated me. Over the past 15 years, I’ve owned three Nissans, but just replaced my last one with a Hyundai. When it’s time to replace the current Hyundai, if we’re still owning cars, I will remember Nissan’s mistake. Is it significant enough for me to not consider a Nissan? We’ll see.

The amount of data companies have access to in order to identify the needs, wants, likes and dislikes of consumers is huge. Granted, we’re in the infancy of using this data to improve marketing; however, companies must be smarter about how they are going to use this data.

How about this? Focus on providing information of value to make customers’ and prospects’ lives simpler and easier instead of trying to make an emotional connection which, in fact, offends. It’s much less risky to tell your story than it is to attempt to make an emotional connection based on big data, which is inherently impersonal.

Author: Tom Smith

Tom Smith is a DZone research analyst who built a career gathering insights from analytics to inform integrated marketing plans that make a significant positive impact on business. He's a hands-on leader in marketing and analysis who has worked with more than 120 clients in eight vertical industries. Smith is an experienced full-stack marketer who uses insights to drive positioning and branding, demand generation and lead creation, channel management, and customer relationship management and customer experience. The purpose of his blog is to share thought-provoking insights regarding customer experience. Reach him at

2 thoughts on “Use My Personal Data, But Don’t Offend Me”

  1. Tom – an interesting post. Being in digital marketing, my thinking is that despite Nissan being able to budget for this type of advertising, its fumble, if you will, in delivery and targeting are in part due to the gaps in this early stages of this marketing technology. A lot of companies rushing to use it and relying on what is often the limitation of the data and the technology itself.

    I see a lot of this in brand monitoring of sentiment; the data is only as good as the technology’s ability to deliver it. So when a reporting tool spits out a report showing sentiment of users’ comments being ‘negative,’ often it’s because the machine learning isn’t refined (smart?) enough to understand things like sarcasm. Not exactly an apples to apples to your experience, but I think that both examples point toward tech limitations in the where/now of digital advertising mass adoption. Thinking that Nissan’s mistake in not being able to discern your sentiment for UNC is based on its rush to early adoption of tech that can’t yet parse data for personal nuances. Likely, with the ever increasing pace of tech development, AI and machine learning, these early phases of digital marketing will soon be a blip on the radar.

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