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Stuck in the Middle With You

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right……here I am, stuck in the middle with you

Sen. Long- “Mr. Zuckerberg, Congress is only good at 2 things; doing nothing and over reacting. Mr. Zuckerberg, this is a shot over the bow, Congress is about to overreact.”

As a veteran, with a front row seat, to energy and telecom deregulation, I can assure you, the answer lies in the middle and people make their own decisions.  With Zuckerberg sweating like Nixon in the debates with Kennedy while protecting an enormous amount of shareholder value for a service that is built upon exactly what Congress is poking at, he and the bi-polar reactions of congress are not going to be the place to find a solution.  We have a right to opt out of FaceBook, the Congress, not so much.  It’s not going to be free service and offer no data or advertising.  Their issue was how others used the data, not that is was sold. The choice will be ours.

If it’s free, we are the product

In the world where every free click to weather, playing of a game, reading of an article, looking at the market, sending pics and likes to friends, posting of a recipe and talking into our beloved virtual assistants, may seem like products, but they aren’t. If it’s free, we are the product. Access to us and data regarding our traits and interest we portray or simply because of the community we joined is a highly sellable product.  At some level, we grasp this at a macro level but, when the details come out we seem to forget that Google and Gmail, also free, have the right to data mine and market every keyword, download and email that take place in their respective worlds.  And for those of us with the array of virtual assistants in the house, it must be shocking that these devices are so cheap, and, that someone might be listening in.

WARNING – This site depends on advertising and data sales

We are decades into intelligent food labeling, yet we still have an obese population that eats inexpensive processed foods that are marked and labeled as such.  Cigarettes have not been able to advertise other than by funding anti-smoking ads in every medium and a packaging regimen that requires something just short of “open at your own risk.”  Yet, even though less people smoke, some people still smoke.  Apps, content and utilities that subsidize our services will need to start to reveal what they do, and let us as participants, decide if we want to conduct a fair exchange of something from them and something for us, or pay and expect to share nothing. We can be certain that the data market does not disappear overnight, and that consumer choice will begin to reign it in. Read before you click labeling will replace the privacy policies not even read by those that write them.

I’ve seen that movie too

Too much regulation created a monopoly phone company named ATT and rates that required us to wait until 11:00 in the evening to be able to afford to make it a long-distance call. Complete deregulation of the telecommunications industry created a loss of 100’s of thousands of jobs and 100’s of billions in bankruptcy’s and Worldcom.  Energy regulation created 3 Mile Island, yet deregulation brought us Enron. Internet service and mobile providers market our browser behaviors and all want to control us as households in one lower priced bundle, all subsidized by the marketing of access to and data regarding us as users. And none of us can wait for a world beyond Xfinity, all of our browser history across all our devices.  Neither FaceBook or Congress get to decide, we get to decide as consumers.  

Stupid is as stupid does

Information, content and utility offered in the ubiquity they are available today, without the subsidy of ad and data revenue that supports them, cannot exist. The percent of people that will chose to opt out of sites that offer a binary subscription fee or data/advertising option will all depend on the value and utility of what we get for free. Some will stay and some will leave. We as marketers and consumers are going to know more about privacy concepts like; are they allowed to listen, can they turn on my camera, do they access our address files, do they have restrictions on where and how often they sell your data, what types of data are they collecting, what happens to that data when I opt out.  Here, as with the Senator and Mr. Zuckerberg, the answers will not be as simple as “do you want to tell us what hotel you stay at last night?”  It’s time to get educated and make informed decisions vs just complain.

Tryin’ to make some sense of it all

With approximately 400mm smartphone devices receiving almost 200b mobile ad impressions a day, the amount of data points available regarding those devices, the whereabouts and browsing habits of the owners are all certainly accessible by many methodologies. This explains the constant interruptions and low response rates. Half of this traffic comes from 1000’s of publishers, networks and exchanges…..the other half just thru Facebook and Google……just saying.  Guess why public WI-FI is free?  We in the middle must address the use of a constant bombardment of messaging 24/7/365 and a world where advertising scares the crap out of us.  This change has to start from both opposite ends and meet in the middle.  Hope this made some sense at all, cause I feel they make no sense at all.

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