A mass dependency is hard to break

As consumers, our data is used across the web by businesses who profit off of our behaviors.  The current methods used by many companies to reach consumers occur through a web of data brokers and intermediaries whose role is to profile, track, and target consumers.  This entrenched ecosystem strives to engage and influence the most relevant consumers, and ultimately of course, it’s all about the things we purchase.  

Despite emerging strides in consumer privacy laws, such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), companies today remain dependent on data brokers and surveillance marketing in order to be competitive.  That’s why data brokerage is a $200 Billion industry.  A few examples:

  • Browsing and mobile device activity produce thousands of data points that are used to create complete profiles of consumers, and to target them with marketing.  
  • Over 1,400 leading stores and brands sell information from store loyalty cards to data brokers.  
  • A recent study by PwC in the UK determined that half the money spent by advertisers is sucked up by various ad tech companies before it gets to the publishers running the ads. 
  • Further, companies that don’t sell data, often share access to it – including some major retailers, payment apps, and credit card issuers.  


New Protections give individuals more rights to their data, but…

Recent and emerging state laws offer protections to consumers, including the ability to ask a company they interact with to:

  • Stop selling or sharing their data 
  • Disclose what categories of data they have about the consumer, and with whom it’s shared
  • Make accessible their actual, specific pieces of data to the consumer
  • Delete the consumer’s data, if requested

Privacy laws are evolving in many states, and we applaud the healthy debate in the privacy community around the best paths forward.  

The CCPA and the current ballot initiative to fix its loopholes in California, and Andrew Yang’s Data Dividend Project to get people paid for their data that’s already being exploited, are tangible steps forward.  Others, including a recent discussion and paper hosted by the Future of Privacy Forum, thoughtfully warn of the unintended consequences of overly cementing a potential “pay-for-privacy” paradigm.  There’s a great Wired article for those interested in more detail on the California privacy debate. 

We can all agree on the common denominator – practical solutions that put consumers in the driver’s seat.  No solution is perfect, but progress means improving imperfect real action over time. The bottom line: laws are only a foundation — innovations are the only answer to give consumers and businesses a better choice.


…The addiction remains – innovation needed!

Emerging privacy laws are intended to protect consumers and influence companies to find ethical ways to compete.  But until compelling alternatives are innovated and brought to market, businesses will make only the minimum changes necessary to comply with regulations.

Without new alternatives to take their place, companies across the United States will remain addicted to the existing practices being used to compete, including the use of consumer profiling and data brokers.  

Laws can open the door, but they can’t create the missing new methods to benefit consumers and companies alike.  Only win-win innovation can break the addiction.

Enabling a direct, trust-based relationship between consumers and the retailers and brands they buy from stands to unlock tremendous financial value for both parties. 


The elephant in the room – why Purchase data is the key to a win-win 

Enormous financial value and trust is lost to the web of surveillance players that currently sit between consumers and those who we buy things from.   That’s why, fundamental to creating the mutual win is putting the consumer in control of our most valuable data – how we spend our money.  

Purchase data uniquely creates direct relationships – returning the lost monetary value to consumers and trust in those we buy from.  

For consumersToday there’s no one place to even see our item-level purchases, across all our retailers online and off.  

That information simply isn’t accessible to consumers today.  Once it is, it’s both useful and valuable.  First, it unlocks knowledge – both about our item-level spending, and about the products we buy, and even what’s in them.  Second, it unlocks monetary value – it flips the power to consumers themselves, to permit only privacy-complying companies to engage with them.

For retailers and brandsToday, there isn’t an effective or ethical way to directly reach consumers who are agreeing to be reached – based on terms they decide, and on their actual item-level interests.  When companies earn trust by committing to privacy, consumers reward that trust with their loyalty and their wallets.  

As I mentioned in my last post, “Welcome to the Trust-based Economy”, by gaining privacy and possession of our own data, a new trust-based marketplace can emerge. We can choose to give more of our business to trustworthy retailers, decide which ones can engage with us, anonymously based on our actual purchase needs, and on terms that we choose. In return, we will receive preferred pricing and personalized offers that we’ve invited. In this win-win model, consumers are in the driver’s seat.


Why the time is now, and the steps are clear

By giving consumers the keys to their own purchase data, we create direct, trust-based relationships between consumers and those we buy from.  We recover the monetary value and trust that’s currently lost to unsavory intermediaries, and return it to both sides. 

Consumers gain knowledge, savings, control and privacy of their most valuable data.  Companies who agree to enable that will earn our trust, well-deserved revenue, loyalty, and competitiveness.  

While so much of the personal data world is entrenched in a trust-less model that is difficult to change, purchase data presents us with a profound opportunity.  


Drivers Wanted!  A window of opportunity exists for consumers to get in the driver’s seat of their most valuable information, and put trust and value back where it belongs.  That’s why we created Pyrl (/’Pearl’/), and we invite you to join us!  

Visit us at pyrl.io, and join our beta (Beta code: Trust2020)