Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Novel Concept...

Acxiom is one of the largest companies that specialize in collecting data about Internet users.  Their main customers are marketeers looking for new prospective buyers of their products.  The data they have comes from many sources, including cookies, web site tracking technologies, and partnerships with web stores that share purchase and browsing information.

None of that is new.  What is new, though, is that Acxiom is making your data available to you.  Once they confirm your identity, you can view what they know about you – and if you find errors, you can even correct it.  You can also opt out, meaning that Acxiom will stop selling your data to marketeers.  That is a novel concept: openness.

You can do this yourself by visiting About The Data.  Scroll to the bottom and click the orange button to start the process.  It took me about five minutes (and three tries!) to successfully identify myself – but once I did that, the rest was easy.

They've broken down the information they hold on you into several categories.  It was fascinating to look at.  In my case, at least, I was surprised by how much they didn't know, or had wrong.  They have my name, address, and email all perfectly.  They didn't have any of my phone numbers, their income and economic data was wildly off, and the shopping information they have is heavily skewed to Debbie's purchases.  Since she does much more shopping off Amazon than I do, I suspect this means Amazon doesn't report our purchases – thank you, Amazon.  After absorbing my profile there, I realized that I kind of like what they're presenting to marketeers – it's so far off that it will keep the predators at bay :)

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