We are marketers. We create products and brands that add value to people’s lives, price them appropriately for the true value they offer, and make people aware of, and even love, them.
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
And we’re kept in check by the free market. If we price too high, or make a product that is of low quality or consumer value, our marketing doesn’t succeed and we are forced to improve it. This creates a virtuous circle of ever-better, more useful and valuable products, with ever-better communication to support them.
But when there is an imbalance of information between marketers and the consumer, the free market doesn’t keep the freewheeling marketers in check. So what do we do? We take advantage.
We create reams of products that by rights shouldn’t exist, based on the inside knowledge of, and inside access to, consumers’ everyday lives. We intrude. And, with artificially low cost per acquisition driven through unfair access to personal data, we begin to build businesses and products that, by rights, do not have sustainable commercial models.
They do not meet the inherent balance of product appeal and price. Of course, we are all in competition, so any one of us attempting to hold back the tide is rapidly swamped by those around us. And so we create a bubble, an "emperor’s new clothes" of products, brands and brand stretches that appear viable, but in fact are built on taking advantage of consumer weaknesses exposed through personal data.
Whether we create sales through spamming inboxes, chasing people all over the internet until they accidentally click "Yes" or employing complex algorithms that use big data to predict the weaknesses of the human psyche and use this to land a message – one way or another, we are not building genuinely valuable products and brands that people are choosing to buy.
If we all look deep into our own hearts, we know this feels wrong. Marketers may be depicted as snake-oil salesmen, shysters and purveyors of witchcraft but, as a community, we genuinely aspire to build brilliant products that consumers love. We go to bed each night hoping to have made a small mark on the world, to have added a little bit of happiness to someone’s life with a product that perfectly met their needs.
So we knew, as we spammed and drove down CPAs with retargeting, that it just didn’t feel like what we set out to do.
I’ll say it loud, and I’ll say it proud. As a true marketer, I love GDPR
Cheryl Calverley is the marketing director at AA