When consumer information belongs to consumers!

There's a whole business out there on the web and offline world( direct mail databases, telemarketers etc.) where companies trade your information and make money by way of advertising. They place cookies( without your permission) on the web, track all the information you read, buy and click, use your registration information, get your subscription & transactional data and then bombard you with offers that you may not necessarily want or interested in. Finally, you get fed-up, the companies too get fed-up as there's a diminishing ROI in their marketing efforts and they start searching else where. Then comes a new Google and there's excitement again all round only to wither away after a couple of years! What happens if you as a consumer start trading your information.You as a consumer decide what information would you like to give out and get some returns out of it. That could be the future that's sustainable and  more importantly of value to you.

There are three parties who make money – first YOU, then a central customer information exchange(CCIE) that enables this and an advertiser who seeks to pay for people that they would like to build a dialog with ( remember, I am not using the word – sell, advertise or market!) 

Here's an interesting perspective Jerome brought my attention to:

Each of us is a file of personal data—our age, our sex, our address,
the places we go, the things we buy. Imagine bundling thousands of
these files.

Bill Densmore has been thinking about this for 14 years. A career
journalist who’s shifted to journalism research, Densmore is a fellow
at the futurist Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of
Missouri. Each of us has equity in the lives we live, he believes, and
it’s time to cash in. His solution is the “information valet project,”
a reordered media universe in which dozens of companies compete for the
business of brokering our lives for the online news and commentary we

He envisions it working something like this: You choose an InfoValet.
It asks you what level of personal information you want to share with
the Web sites you visit. At the low end that could basically be your
name, rank, and serial number, and at the high end a laundry list of
your needs and pleasures. Your InfoValet finds out what sites you want
premium—i.e., nonfree—content from, and then it names a price. Its
profit will come from charging you a little more than those sites
charge it, and what they charge will hinge on the desirability of your
“persona” to their advertisers. Densmore can imagine someone wealthy,
acquisitive, and candid who’s so desirable he gets to travel the Web
for pretty much nothing.
Read more.

My view:  Densmore has a  view of  how information from media can be monetized. It's a great idea & brilliant. But, we don't necessarily live to consume advertising information alone in everything that we do everyday, as we search for information. That sounds quite ridiculous and  ominous to me. Sometimes, I just seek information but necessarily don't need advertising tags next to it. Sometimes, I consume information to buy products, want to know more about some products that I read about or I saw in my friend's place and in this context & time, some advertising information necessarily will help me make better decisions. The context of consumer searching the information to me is important. Sometimes, many of these solutions are too web-centric. It needs have a fine balance between on-the-web and off-the-web linkage.

To me, consumers need to have the flexibility to join an information exchange where their membership entitles them to open or close their privacy information as they need it for that context. It must be their prerogative to build a world of links ( what ever they do – on the web and off-the-web) that is available, to the information exchange, as this will enable consumers to reach out to advertisers rather than the other way around. These are consumer info-banks that are owned and managed by consumers themselves.

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