Archives for posts with tag: data ownership


Just like many of you, most of my digital life exists in the cloud. Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Goodreads – you name it. It’s so convenient, it frees me from owning any equipment or learning something as scary as running my own server.

Lately, I’ve been having doubts about this decision.

While many of us discuss the wisdom of sharing data with advertisers (and the questionable benefits for advertisers), recent reports make me wonder if that’s not just a side show. In the good old days, when somebody wanted to get access to any information in my possession, they had to subponae me personally. In this new brave world of cloud computing, they don’t bother with me. They go directly to the companies I’m storing my information with. (And, once in a while, they do the right thing.)More often than not, these companies don’t even inform me of this legal action and share information based on their needs. Not on mine.

Terms of Service protect the company. And keep me vulnerable.

Nobody ever read the “Terms of Service’ of any platform we’re using each and every day. The latest Apple update was more than 50 pages long. Who bothers with that? We’d rather click the “Agree” button and get excited about the newest feature update. That’s human nature. But, when pushing that button we basically give companies the power to share our data based on their ethical standards and the demands of VC’s and Wall Street.

Look, most of us have nothing to fear. We just want to live our lives, make the world a better place and enjoy the time we have left on this earth. But, we should never forget the famous quote from Pastor Martin Niemoeller:

“They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up”

There are only two solutions to this problem:

  1. We trust our data to a company that creates a cloud server that protects the rights of the users who store data on it. (Problem is, why would I trust this specific company? What track record would they need to gain mass adoption?)
  2. We own our own data. Just like we own our printed documents. Our diaries. Our thoughts.

I don’t know about you: I vote for the latter.


I proposed a keynote entitled “Let’s kill advertising and start over.” The keynote will explore the journey beginning with CRM to Social CRM to my hope for the future: VRM.

In brief, VRM gives people the power to interact with brands on their terms. People will regain ownership of their personal data and decide themselves who they want to share this information with. This has many advantages for all stakeholders:

  • It gives companies a much better understanding of the market, reducing the waste of the current guessing game we call advertising
  • Data is not housed in silos, allows for more opportunities to interconnect systems
  • VRM is based on opt-in, improving trust between brands and people. Increasing likelihood they will be open to your message
  • It opens the market up for real competition
  • VRM is the perfect companion for the evolving prosumer.

Here are a few more thoughts about VRM: Let’s leapfrog from Social CRM to VRM and Edison, Insull and planning for the future of VRM.

VRM is a logical evolution of the inefficient seller-buyer relationship we’re experiencing each and every day.

Does a world ruled by VRM need advertising?

Yes. But we need a big reset.

The advertising industry is in an arms race with people right now. Gather as many data points as possible, hoping for more relevancy, and then let’s hunt down the target. Banner Blindness? Let’s add bigger ads to the mix. Declining Engagement Rate? Hide the close button, design the ad and page in a way that people have to engage. Declining metrics always lead to more disruption. To new ways to segment people. To annoy them more. That mindset has to go. And I don’t know many people who would cry if the disruption race would finally take its last lap.

That doesn’t mean advertising will disappear. VRM will help advertising to have a very profitable renaissance.

I love good advertising. And I can’t stand bad advertising. I’m pretty sure most people feel that way.

  • Good advertising gives me valuable input for my decision-making process. I would like to find out about new products through an entertaining commercial
  • And, if that commercial pays for a good network show, even better
  • Some ads (just look at fashion magazines) provide an emotional and cultural undertone, and change the way I feel about myself, the world and the product. Sure, it’s superficial. But true. Can you imagine seeing an Old Navy ad in Vogue? What would that do to your connection with the magazine?

To create demand for a product/service, we need good advertising. (And better marketing) But not top-down advertising driven by data silos. We need to develop new ways to advertise to people, incorporating co-creation and collaboration. By regarding people as partners and not targets. By showing respect to people (opt-in) and not as victims (opt-out).

The combination of VRM and an advertising reset is just plain exciting and offers benefits to everybody. More people need to join the conversation and discuss the implications of VRM for all stakeholders. And, that’s why I want to speak about VRM at SXSWi.

Interested? Please vote for the keynote here