Data privacy: The value exchange in data

Claire Spencer and Tony Mattson
Marketing Sciences and UM

The advertising industry is facing a dichotomy: people's need for privacy, together with their desire for relevant communications. So do we use the power of data to manipulate for commercial gain or act responsibly to add value to people's lives?

In The Philosopher and the Wolf, Mark Rowlands paints a fascinating portrait of the differences between ape and wolf. "Apes," he writes, "are more intelligent than wolves because, ultimately, they are better schemers and deceivers than wolves." The king of the apes, the king schemer and deceiver, is man. And those of us who work in the world of advertising have long carried the can for being the most scheming and deceitful of all. Or so the stereotype goes.

In spite of the great value that the industry adds to the economy and the tremendous good that is done through the industry for our society, the subtext of the old joke 'Please don't tell my mother I work in advertising' still lingers. The rapid development of technology, data and computer processing power has transformed our industry and with these developments has come an ethical tension.