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Accessing the Next Generation of Consumer Behavioral Data

Accessing the Next Generation of Consumer Behavioral Data

Paul Neto

The key principles of building trust to encourage users to share their data

What happens when people spend more and more time online? More data is generated. At least, as market researchers, that’s what we think of first. We already know that digital connectivity is accelerating and, as restrictions rise again in the face of the pandemic, this trend promises to stick around for a while. While all of us wish this extra data was available for a different reason, the fact is that its availability can help us to understand our audiences in entirely new ways, if we can access the correct data.

Market research has generally consisted of asking people questions about how they feel, what they are doing and why they are doing things. Surveys, focus groups and other variations on these techniques are deployed to a representative (we hope) segment of the population, and data collected is turned into insights for decision-making. This continues to be an important part of the puzzle.

But what about connecting this self-reported data with what is going on in real life?


Traditionally, it has been somewhat difficult to access consumer behavioral data, thus the reliance on surveys. Nearly as soon as we were able to access the first generation of digital behavioral data, most consumer activities shifted to controlled environments, often referred to as walled-gardens, such as in-app purchases and media consumption. With 3.8 billion mobile phone users by next year, it is critical for 360-degree consumer insights that inform us what people are doing on their mobile devices. Yet, in addition to controlled environments, privacy and trust issues abound as more regulations come into play, such as GDPR and the new California Privacy Rights Act. While compliance with these mandates is entirely possible, their existence, along with highly publicized data breaches of various kinds, has made consumers wary.

Fortunately, we have an option for uncovering this type of valuable data: user-permissioned access. With a user’s consent, we have the technology and means to gain a window into data that was previously inaccessible. But how does this work with a wary consumer? We must build user-friendly ecosystems that nurture trust and give consumers control over their own data. Through our research, we’ve uncovered several key principles in building trust to encourage sharing:

  • Data sovereignty: Consumers own and control their data and provide explicit consent for sharing.
  • Privacy by design: The environment for sharing data must be firmly grounded in the protection of each individual’s privacy—and this commitment must be clearly communicated.
  • Fair reward: People who choose to share data must receive fair incentives; In fact, our research showed that 85% of people prioritize compensation for sharing information.
  • Transparency: Greater levels of transparency should be used to achieve accountability and build trust with individuals and buys alike—and in a safe way that doesn’t compromise privacy. We found that 77% of people would share more data if they felt that the organization asking for information was more transparent.

Our team has called the connection of market research data with behavioral data the “holy grail” of consumer insights. We know that as researchers, marketers and brands, we must gain a more complete understanding of digital behaviors as the world around us transforms. Building trust with individuals, from the ground up, is at the heart of this approach to consumer insights.

Photo by bagotaj courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Paul Neto is co-founder and chief marketing officer at Measure Protocol, a blockchain-powered economy for human-generated data. With a background in market research, digital advertising, data technologies and consumer insights, Paul is passionate about how technology can change the consumer data landscape.