It’s 2014 and TIME magazine has just run an article on DataCoup, a self-described “personal data marketplace” where consumers could, for the first time, cut out the middle man in advertising and sell their private data directly to businesses themselves. Over the next year, founder Matt Hogan finds himself in the spotlight - interviewed, praised and even rejected by the media and academic organisations, from Slate Magazine to MIT. People are perplexed, cautious and excited. It symbolises rebellion against the likes of Google and Facebook, who in 2014 were frequently under scrutiny for their handling of data collection where the public were unaware. Hogan believes he is ‘giving the people the choice to compromise their data… on their own terms’.
Buzz hailed the arrival of a real ‘game-changer’ in data and CRM. The Guardian even went so far to say that it would cause, ‘a [positively] significant fillip of privacy on a global scale’, and expected the emergence of competitive services. And then Mr. Hogan and his big idea disappeared, under the media’s belief that nobody would ever willingly give away their data. Even for money.
So, what went wrong?
Two years have passed and DataCoup has found itself in the public eye again. As of September, AOL ran a post on the return of this ‘fair trade advertising’ and coins it ‘data broking’. Mr. Hogan is also reportedly in talks with email marketing service providers to start reaching out and acquiring consumers. Was this his plan all along?
2016 is a very different beast: Most people have accepted that brands are tracking them online. The secret (like their private information) is already out there. In 2016, direct marketing on social media banners and emails reflect search histories and footprints almost shamelessly, sometimes conveniently. And yet, nobody seems overwhelmingly bothered. Whereas in 2014 the general public may have been a little less willing to talk about sharing private data, now we accept that surfing the net is to compromise our privacy in some way. So the question from here-on is how we can turn around the tables and benefit from this. This is why DataCoup’s service right now is a no-brainer and a lesson in great timing. Not only do consumers get paid for sharing their data (win) but they can also be specific about how much they share through DataCoup and opt-out anytime. The platform is sleek and modern, making something quite complicated very user-friendly. Some of these reasons may explain why Mr. Skip Fedura of Dotmailer calls DataCoup, ‘the Uber of Data’.
Quite inevitably, a number of competitors have cropped up to take the Data Brokers crown. But with resurgence in exposure, a new found credibility and a platform that is tried and tested, it remains Mr. Hogan’s baby. Strong foresight into consumer behaviour and years of development mean that 2017 might be the year we start selling our data instead of ignoring it.