Con­sumers fear big data—but they do so because they don’t under­stand it. It’s impor­tant to show con­sumers why it ben­e­fits them that mar­keters have their infor­ma­tion. We should work to relay this mes­sage to con­sumers: that mar­keters (us) hav­ing con­sumers’ infor­ma­tion can be ben­e­fi­cial to their online expe­ri­ences. It’s clear how infor­ma­tion can ben­e­fit the mar­keters and the com­pa­nies they rep­re­sent, but it’s not always evi­dent to the con­sumer why mar­keters should have their infor­ma­tion. Mar­keters should lead the bat­tle on clar­ity. We should be the ones clear­ing the fog and stigma behind data col­lec­tion. It ben­e­fits all par­ties when mar­keters know their con­sumers’ preferences.

A Lux­ury Service

As with any lux­ury ser­vice, mar­keters cus­tomize the online expe­ri­ence accord­ing to a user’s pref­er­ence. If you go to your favorite restau­rant, you appre­ci­ate when the server recalls your drink order. You like that the server is cater­ing to you. Mar­ket­ing should be the same. Mar­keters gather infor­ma­tion on their con­sumers and use it to cus­tomize ads and search results for par­tic­u­lar users, to show users what they want to see. Mar­keters are redesign­ing the online expe­ri­ence as a cus­tomized, lux­ury ser­vice. Wear­ing this lens of lux­ury when view­ing mar­ket­ing helps remove some of the stigma sur­round­ing data col­lec­tion. Still, many con­sumers tend to ignore the ben­e­fits of gath­er­ing mar­ket­ing infor­ma­tion. There are many rea­sons why col­lect­ing infor­ma­tion serves the consumer.

A Ser­vice Based on Past Experience

Con­sumers’ expe­ri­ences should reflect in every ad they see. Mar­keters want users to see things the users have liked before. It is in the marketer’s best inter­est to show con­sumers rel­e­vant adver­tise­ments. Mar­keters don’t want to waste their resources or the consumer’s time. When a con­sumer uses the Inter­net that user is build­ing and grow­ing his or her online alias. Mar­keters employ user data to show users things they’ve proven to like.

Basi­cally, users past actions reflect in their cur­rent adver­tise­ments. Mar­keters build the online expe­ri­ence around the users’ past actions and pref­er­ences. You are the user; you choose what you want to see. You do this by tak­ing actions, and mar­keters hope to reflect these actions in mar­ket­ing schemes. But mar­keters can do bet­ter than just remem­ber­ing past actions and feed­ing them back to users.

Mar­keters Can Antic­i­pate Action

With con­sumer data, mar­keters can antic­i­pate future actions. They can do this by com­bin­ing spe­cific infor­ma­tion with gen­er­al­ized infor­ma­tion. The spe­cific infor­ma­tion is that which is specif­i­cally asso­ci­ated with a sin­gle user, infor­ma­tion such as a user’s clicks or actions on ads. Gen­eral infor­ma­tion is con­glom­er­ate data based on cer­tain fac­tors, includ­ing the aver­age clicks or actions for a cer­tain demo­graphic on ads. If mar­keters already know that a con­sumer likes tech­nol­ogy and books, then the mar­keters may be able to antic­i­pate that the con­sumer would like to see an e-reader.

Com­bin­ing the spe­cific infor­ma­tion (that the indi­vid­ual likes tech­nol­ogy and books) with the gen­eral infor­ma­tion (that peo­ple who like both tech­nol­ogy and books often also like e-readers), the mar­keters can antic­i­pate the user’s desires. Mar­keters not only cater to users based on past actions, but also use con­sumer infor­ma­tion to evoke prac­ti­cal fore­sight, to antic­i­pate users’ wants.

A great mar­keter is like a great restau­rant server. A great server can com­bine the infor­ma­tion of a customer’s pre­vi­ous orders and the infor­ma­tion of what other cus­tomers like to order to rec­om­mend a dish.

Cir­cum­stan­tial Offers

Mar­keters can cus­tomize expe­ri­ences for users based on past actions and can antic­i­pate future wants, but it may be most impor­tant that mar­keters can show con­sumers per­son­al­ized offers based on cur­rent sit­u­a­tions. This means that mar­keters can adjust mar­ket­ing schemes accord­ing to a customer’s cur­rent circumstances.

A good server can use pre­vi­ous cus­tomer infor­ma­tion, rea­son­able antic­i­pa­tion, and cir­cum­stan­tial knowl­edge to make a great rec­om­men­da­tion. The cir­cum­stan­tial knowl­edge may be the fact that it’s sum­mer or that there are new fresh ingredients.

The good mar­keter does the same thing. Maybe the con­sumer is vaca­tion­ing in a new city; the mar­keter can then offer rental cars, or hotel rooms. Maybe the con­sumer is pur­chas­ing a new lap­top; the mar­keter can offer lap­top cases or other acces­sories. When mar­keters adjust to par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances they are using con­sumer data to make the right offers at the right times.

A Fine-Tuned Experience

Great mar­ket­ing cam­paigns con­stantly adjust to con­sumers based on indi­vid­u­al­ized and gen­er­al­ized data. It’s impor­tant that mar­keters use past actions, antic­i­pa­tion, and cur­rent infor­ma­tion in com­bi­na­tion to cre­ate a per­son­al­ized user expe­ri­ence. When mar­keters use a con­glom­er­a­tion of these tech­niques, they cre­ate a fine-tuned, lux­ury Inter­net expe­ri­ence. Uti­liz­ing con­sumer infor­ma­tion allows mar­keters to cre­ate unique user expe­ri­ences. It allows mar­keters to show con­sumers what they want to see: unique, rel­e­vant ads and not lousy, irrel­e­vant ones.