Only a few years ago, conventional wisdom held privacy to be an outdated concept that had no place in a digital world. However, as has become very clear in recent months, privacy has made a comeback, albeit in somewhat altered form, and it is now more important than ever.
In order to investigate what the changing definition of privacy means for marketers, Contagious teamed up with global insight and brand consultancy Flamingo to conduct qualitative research across the US and the UK.
Contagious also worked with research partner James Kennedy to conduct quantitative research of a nationally-representative sample of 2,000 people in the US, and the UK.
A full report, ‘Privacy in Perspective’, is available to Contagious subscribers, however a summary of the key research findings can be found here.
Interesting aspect regarding the definition of ‘privacy’:
Privacy manifests itself over a spectrum – it is about freedom, control and choice
People realize that their data is co-owned, that once something is shared it is out of their control. There is a desire to create and connect but they have increasingly little choice over how it gets shared and distributed. The balance of power is unequal. The dilemma is: how do you become secure without abandoning the internet? Therefore privacy means: freedom, choice, and control. Freedom to create and consume what I please, choice to share it (or not) as I please and only with whom I intend, and control over how it lives on.
• We’ve become accustomed to our every move being tracked, and no longer expect anonymity: Only 35% of people in the UK and 28% in the US expect that it is realistic for any information about themselves online to remain completely anonymous.
• As one millennial in the qualitative research put it: ‘I have to accept being tracked online: shopping, emails, social media etc. It’s never going to change and will probably only increase.’
• The fact that we’re used to our information being tracked, doesn’t mean we like it. 49% of respondents in the UK and 57% in the US say that protecting their online privacy is something they invest time and money in.
• People also have very different privacy expectations in different contexts. ‘I think there’s a big difference in terms of the expectation of privacy between Netflix and Gmail,’ explained one Gen X male we interviewed as part of our research. ‘Obviously it makes sense to me that Netflix is going to have a record of what DVDs I’ve watched. But it is off-putting to see a targeted ad based on an email I have sent — it makes me think my email is being read by someone.’
If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently. When you look into infinity, you realize there are more important things than what people do all day.
Brands should embrace the so-called ‘slash/slash generation’. This is a group of people who define themselves not by a single occupation, but by the diversity of their passions, networks and experiences. They can have a number of different pursuits in parallel, be it personal, creative and entrepreneurial projects, leading to a richer and more innovative working culture. This new wave of entrepreneurs is busy shaping its own destiny instead of steadfastly climbing the corporate ladder.
When millions of people point camera-phones at you while you sing, you learn a thing about music and technology. You could laugh at pop starlet Taylor Swift for her fluffy teddy bear of a column in the Wall Street Journal today, or chide the WSJ for printing it, but there are some poignant nuggets of knowledge in there.
Mizz Swift says “I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online”. Preventing that footage from being shot in arenas full of teen girls would be impossible, so if she plays the same set every night, fans will walk away bored. That’s why she brings out unique guest stars and more every night so the experience is always fresh.
Flash in the pan singles don’t earn money the way they did back when they were bundled with albums or at least sold as downloads. Meanwhile, free access via platforms like YouTube mean fans can burn through their love of a shallow song quickly. Swift explains people “are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart.” She likens music to three types of relationships: quick flings with songs you dance to and then forget, stronger relationships with albums you remember but that pass, and connecting with an artist on such a deep emotional level that they become “The One” and you listen to them for life. The real success comes with being The One.
Musicians and other celebrities have sidestepped the record labels, managers, retail stores, and press and now connect to fans directly through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Swift explains, “The casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers”. Artists can’t just be artists any more, they have to be community managers. Music sales, tour success, commercial tie-ins and more depend on being able to rally one’s fan base.
“I haven’t been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento ‘kids these days’ want is a selfie” says Swift. And since people actually share selfies, that’s great for artists…if they leverage them. Celebrities should be asking fans to mention their official account when they post the photo and ask friends to follow them so they can virally grow their audience.
All four of these ideas tie in to a single theme: Adapt to the (often scary) inevitabilities of change. You can’t stop piracy, the overall decreasing sales, or the rise of the networked fan base’s power. But if you’re flexible with what it means to be an artist, you reduce the risks and score big with the new opportunities.