Xtra Internet Thoughts

Repeating History in Web 2.0 – Part 1 – Opting out of Trust

I find it truly frustrating to watch Web companies continue to make the same mistakes regarding consumer privacy and trust, such as the recent Facebook fiasco. Are all these new wunderkind CEO’s who supposedly grew up on the Internet and therefore really “get it” just too young to remember the privacy and trust related stumbles of the Web 1.0 boom? Or, is this industry just so dynamic and chaotic that it erodes long term memory for those of us who did live through it? (I may have this problem myself, but I don’t believe it is Web-related) If there is one long standing marketing maxim that should be ingrained upon the memory of every Internet executive it is this: NEVER VIOLATE THE TRUST A CONSUMER HAS IN YOUR BRAND. For all the dinosaur bashing that offline marketing has had to suffer over the last 10 years, I will say this much in its defense: a consumer always has the option to turn off the TV, change the radio station or throw away a piece of junk mail with minimal effort or affront. One of the inherent advantages of passive, mass media is that you can always opt-out by tuning out at the very last minute without it becoming all that intrusive. This is not the case with interactive, personalized media (think telephones and telemarketers), because the offensiveness of SPAM grows in proportion to the level of engagement. Despite all the hoopla about micro-targeting that social media and other Web 2.0 technologies will ultimately enable, they will never provide the same level of protection to privacy and trust as the good old fashioned act of consistently asking for permission and enabling the consumer to control the experience.

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