Using Opt-in Advertising in Interactivity for Relieving Privacy Concerns

Posted by on Jul 6, 2011 in Advertising, Content

I read a piece at Media Buyer some time ago which outlined some interesting stats. Among them:

62 percent of the UK’s social-networking site users say they are worried about the safety of their personal data held on those sites.
31 percent of users say they have entered false information about themselves to protect their identity.

I am concerned about my privacy. It’s can be a very real threat. There are entire niche industries built around the fear of being threatened in some fashion. Think for a moment of the “identity theft protection” credit card companies and others have been pushing on the public for the last several years. There is big money in protecting against identity thievery.

Digital signs that read faces are among technology advances that really tend to freak people out. The closer we get to a Minority Report experience, the more people get uneasy and want a quick way to silence anything having to do with it. For instance, we helped a car dealership with an interactive digital sign that allowed users to input their information for a chance to win a new car at the end of the year. The display was highly targeted, readily available to customers (even those who did not wish to or have the opportunity to speak to a salesperson), and could pull information quickly. The struggle was that there was no disclaimer. Over the course of several weeks, the company received so many requests for some sort of opt-out service that the content creators had to implement an opt-out of further contact.

Email and mobile marketers do it, why not us?

In the world of mobile marketing, there are barriers to spam advertising on digital signage to mobile phones. As digital signage becomes more interactive there will, of necessity, arise issues with spam, information gleaning/selling, mobile integration, and a slew of other issues relating to privacy. Think for instance of the following question which could be posed in the not-so-distant future: “if this thing reads my face, what else can it do? Will someone be able to stalk me to my home and take all my possessions?” While such an idea may seem off-base, it certainly could be going through the minds of consumers

Opt-in advertising technically does not stop an organization from spamming you or selling off your information to someone else who can spam you, but it does give consumers the warm and fuzzy factor. What is the warm and fuzzy factor? It is that sense of security that comes from reading something like, “your information will not be used for spamming purposes or be sold to any third party for any reason…blah, blah, blah!” Of course this all requires that information be inputted into the display somehow.

In the case of kiosks, that’s easy, but what about the day when large format displays completely replace kiosks? There will come a day when interactivity and information input into digital display will be big business in areas of high traffic like malls, shopping centers, and other retail establishments. The concerns here have already surfaced in the self-service kiosk marketplace and similar “feelgood” protections have been implemented there.

Interactivity increases the need for privacy

As interactivity and information exchange begin to play a much greater role in digital media, opt-out and other protective marketing legalities will necessarily become implemented into marketing strategies–especially those which involve the pulling of information at the customers’ point of contact. Connecting people with unlimited access to information has freaked people out over the last several years. Do you remember Sandra Bullock in The Net? This is another area where the digital signage realm can learn from the mistakes the kiosk world has already made. Where do you see privacy heading as interactivity increases?

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