As the pandemic shifts and I start to see my extended family in person again, we're returning to conversations beyond our time in quarantine. I face a lot of questions about what companies like mine do with consumer data. My family, like the majority of U.S. shoppers (80%), is spending more time online and it’s heightened their awareness of consumer privacy.
They ask me about all the news and attention on consumer privacy and whether it’s a real concern and an issue they should be paying close attention to. They know I work for a tech company in the digital marketing space, so they look to me for guidance. Here at Jornaya, we make it our mission to protect consumer privacy—but I realize it can be very confusing, especially with new regulations and privacy updates.
Many consumers, including those in my family, are trying to make sense of rising attention being paid to privacy so I’d like to dispel a few myths and share perspective on how our clients work with us to honor privacy.
We’re All Consumers First
I may be in tech, but I was (and still am) a consumer first. As consumers, we care about protecting our personal information tied to our behavior. We don’t want every company out there knowing our name, birthdate, relative’s information, phone numbers, and home address. Our online behavior—such as websites visited, pictures liked, products purchased—should work for us, making our shopping experiences better.
But the word “privacy” is being used as a catch-all term for any issue consumers have with the way a company conducts its digital business. This includes statements like “they know everything about me” or “they track my every move.”
But not all tech companies buy, sell, and use data with ill-intent. Here at Jornaya, we operate under the Golden Rule of Data: We treat any handling of data as we would want our own personal data handled. And, the marketers we work with follow the same guidelines because they know honoring consumer privacy and truly understanding consumer preferences are the most critical parts of providing exceptional customer experiences.
We All Want Great Experiences
The marketers we work with here at Jornaya want to provide their consumers with the right content and offers when and how they need it the most. They don’t want to inundate consumers with emails or phone calls—and they certainly don’t want to watch what consumers are doing online every day.
Yet, there’s a real dilemma that’s formed recently between what we want as consumers and what advertisers and marketers can deliver. The Internet is a mostly free network of content for any consumer with a connected device, however, the content—websites, apps, blogs, social networks—aren’t actually free. The businesses behind all of the websites get paid by advertisers for data and ads.
The truth is, most marketing technology (MarTech) companies aren’t tracking us in the way some may think. And marketers aren’t tracking everything we’re doing either. What they are doing is relying on their first-party data. This is data that you’ve already shared with them, such as your email, phone number, or mailing address, to deliver a more personalized experience for you, which could even be not sending you an email or not calling you.
These companies then look to data companies, like Jornaya, to enhance this data with behavioral attributes, such as time of day and frequency of the shopping. This information provides details into the buying journey so marketers can send the right message to the right person. Imagine receiving an offer to refinance your home at a rate lower than you were offered prior? Or saving on your insurance by bundling your home and auto with your current carrier. Enhancing first-party data provides a wider view of the shopping journey and can provide a better experience (bonus: it could save you time and money!).
Staying Safe, Remaining Compliant
One way to ensure consumer safety is through hashing technology. Hashing is the process of generating a value from a text input using a one-way cryptographic algorithm that protects consumer information and data (see hashing basics).
We do that here at Jornaya. We don’t use actual emails or phone numbers. For example, my hashed email is: 0f589c048bcfe90544f964e536cf0571339d613db5387e0ed8eb923f184889e1. My hashed phone number is: a7e4c26413b5c456d8ad589b6f51a3dfe7505b74ed8c91c74d4889477ed623de. This hashed data is one-way, meaning it can’t be reversed back to the actual value. No one could ever decipher my actual email or phone number.
Our products don’t work with your personal information (e.g. your email address or phone number); they only work with hashed information. So from a consumer privacy perspective, we don’t know who anyone is. But the data that we attach to these anonymized records can be used by our customers, companies that consumers have agreed to share their information with, to create a better experience and relationship with consumers.
This brings us full circle to the goal of a marketer: to provide consumers with content that is meaningful, and our data is used by marketers to inform when and how to market and when not to market to consumers.
Deciphering Consumer Privacy in the News
The privacy updates being made by big technology companies will have very little to no impact on Jornaya’s products because we build them with consumer privacy at the core. While some marketer’s jobs will become more challenging, consumers who are shopping for a new house, mortgage, or insurance policy with the brands we work with will continue to have exceptional experiences.
The products we design enable the marketer to deliver relevant, timely content and offers. This makes your shopping journey and buying decision process much easier and better than it was before all of this technology existed.
The bottom line is: Data enables this positive exchange and the way Jornaya handles consumer data ensures consumers don’t need to worry about their privacy with us.