Saturday, November 22, 2008

Data Mining's Implications on IMC

Ethically, businesses have the obligation to inform consumers that their information will be utilized to compile databases and will be sold for the purpose of advertising and marketing. It can be argued that if a business uses the information collected to enhance the experience for the consumer then this would be valid, but they should not sell that information or trade it to build massive databases, that would be ethically wrong. For example, Harrah’s Entertainment in Las Vegas uses technology to capture information on their consumers. They then use that information to project super targeted messages to the consumer. Further, they have not contracted with any third party to sell or trade the information nor do they purchase any data from external sources.

When asked about ethics and data mining, Allen Nance, president of email marketing communications for the firm Mansell Group in Atlanta states, “what's alarming to me isn't the strategies companies are applying for their own benefit, but the large, large companies forming data alliances for someone else's benefit” (Shermach, 2006). His assertion is absolutely correct on many levels. Ethics should certainly be called into question when corporations use others for personal gain.

Another article further substantiates my claim that data mining can and many times does border the ethics line. Even though many marketers will argue the same tired argument that data mining will allow for more precise targeting, it is important to note that “the collection and analysis of consumers’ personal information from various electronic databases also raises significant privacy concerns” (Spangler, et al, 2006). The argument is not one against new technology and advances in marketing, but rather a defense of the consumer’s right to privacy. Standard operating procedures and policies should be developed and strictly implemented to ensure every consumer’s private information is guarded.

So, here’s the deal, if data mining practices are going to succeed then compromises must be made on behalf of the consumer. The reason for this is simple; if the consumer feels their privacy is being exploited on behalf of big business then they are likely to feel disdain for the brand and all extensions and products and will inevitably look to other brands to satisfy their needs and wants. A violation of consumers’ privacy should not be considered a “cost of doing business” (Spangler, et al, 2006), rather consumers’ privacy should be treated as valuable and considerations and provisions should be made to ensure that privacy is protected by all means necessary.


Big Brother image. Retrieved November 24, 2008 from

Shermach, K. (2006, August 25). Data mining; where legality and ethics rarely meet. Retrieved November 16, 2008 from

Spangler, W., Hartzel, K., Gal-OR, M. (2006, May). Exploring the privacy implications of addressable advertising and viewer profiling. Communications of the ACM. 49, 5.

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