Analytics & Testing

What’s the Future of Passive Data Collection?

Although clients and suppliers alike cite passive data collection as a growing source of consumer insights, roughly two-thirds say they will not be using passive data two years from now. The finding comes from new research conducted by GfK and the Institute for International Research (IIR) among over 700 market research clients and suppliers.

What is Passive Data Collection?

Passive data collection is the gathering of consumer data through their behavior and interaction without actively notifying or asking the consumer’s permission. In fact, most consumers don’t even realize how much data is actually being captured, nor how it’s being used or shared.

Examples of passive data collection are a browser or mobile device recording your location. Even though you may have clicked okay when first asked if the resource could monitor you, the device passively records your position from there on out.

As consumers become weary of their privacy being utilized in ways they hadn’t imagined, ad-blocking and private browsing options are becoming more and more popular. In fact, Mozilla just announced that Firefox has bolstered its private browsing mode by blocking third-party trackers. This may be keeping ahead of government regulations – which are looking to protect consumers and their data more and more.

Results from The Future of Insights also reveal that:

  • Budget limitations are and will likely remain the leading organizational issue for clients and suppliers; but a variety of other concerns – from data integration to regulatory concerns – are seen as nearly equal in importance.
  • Roughly six in ten clients and suppliers say they will be doing research using mobile apps and/or mobile browsers two years from now – with suppliers more likely to say they are already doing it.
  • Speed of insight generation to impact business decisions is also seen as an important gap in the industry today, scoring second among clients (17%) and third among suppliers (15%).

About one-third of recipients said their most important means for collecting data two years from now will be passive data collection even though two-thirds aren’t actually doing any today. Two-thirds of market research companies don’t expect to be doing passive data collection in two years.

Passive Data Collection: Good or Evil?

In order for marketers to stop interrupting and begin sharing relevant, even requested, offers to consumers, marketers must capture data. The data must be incredibly accurate and available in real-time. Accuracy is provided by validating the data from a number of sources. Real-time isn’t going to happen via surveys nor third-parties… it has to happen concurrently with consumer behavior.

Perhaps marketers brought this on themselves – collecting terabytes of data on customers, but never using it to intelligently offer a better user experience. Consumers are fed up, just feeling used and abused as their data is bought, sold and shared between tons of sources spamming the crap out of them.

My fear is that, without passive data collection, the walls start to go up. Businesses won’t want to put out free content, tools and apps to enhance consumer experience because they can’t glean any usable data from it. Do we really want to head in that direction? I’m not sure we do… but I still can’t blame the resistance.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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