I've become fascinated with comments across the Web left behind by advertising folks insisting the industry follow Do Not Track protocols. These days there are a ton of data breaches to analyze. None are acceptable, yet the numbers keep rising.
Aside from Eric Snowden's government whistle-blowing NSA fiasco, there are professional online hackers stealing data from Target and Neiman Marcus, leaving millions of consumers vulnerable for identity theft. Target's Red Card, the retailer's store-branded debit card tied to consumer accounts, opened the door to one, while the point-of-sale system at the high-end luxury brand department store opened the door to the other.
For those concerned about privacy protection, take another look at how search engines Google and Microsoft attempt to make it all better by encrypting searches to prevent marketers from using organic keywords. The encrypted search queries meant to keep data from being passed on to Web sites that users visit after conducting a search on the engines.
Rewind to 2005, the year Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre published a book called "Spy Chips," referring to radio frequency identification technology or RFID. In the chapter titled "There's A Target On Your Back," the authors write, "Imagine the power of being able to log onto a Google-like Internet search engine and find out all the items associated with a particular person, organization, or government entity. Then imagine being able to find out where all those items are in real time, where they have been, and their historical relationship with other items, people, and events."
In 2014, consumers no longer need to imagine this -- now they live it. This year, 61% of marketers plan to increase their investments in data and analytics, and the same plan to increase investments in marketing automation, per ExactTarget's State of Marketing Report 2014. The report shares insight from more than 2,500 global marketers.
All the data -- data created from browsing behavior and social behavior, from purchases on an ecommerce site or in a retail store, data that moves from the consumer to the brand and back again -- will require a clear strategy and ways to protect it, especially as more marketers invest in a variety of marketing media.