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The Multi-Billion Dollar Industry That Makes Its Living From Your Data

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The Multi-Billion Dollar Personal Data Ecosystem

The Multi-Billion Dollar Industry That Makes Its Living From Your Data

In the ocean ecosystem, plankton is the raw material that fuels an entire food chain. These tiny organisms on their own aren’t that remarkable, but en masse, they have a huge impact on the world.

Here on dry land, the massive volume of content and meta data we produce fuels a marketing research industry that is worth nearly $50 billion. Every instant message, page click, and step you take now produces a data point that can be used to build a detailed profile of who you are.

Every breath you take, Every move you make

The coarse-grained demographics and contact information of yesteryear seems quaint compared to today’s sophisticated data collection battleground. In the past, marketers would make judgement calls on your likely income and family structure based on where you lived, and you’d receive “targeted” mail and calls from telemarketers. Loyalty programs and the emergence of web analytics pushed things a little further.

Today, the steady march of technological advancement has created a vast data collection empire that measures every aspect of your digital life and, increasingly, your offline life as well. Facebook alone uses nearly one hundred data points to target ads to you – everything from your marital status to whether you’ve been on vacation lately or not. Telecoms have access to extremely detailed information on your location. Apple has biometric data.

Also watching your every move are web trackers. “Cookie-syncing” is one of the sneaky ways advertisers can follow you around the internet. Basically, cookie-syncing allows third parties to share browsing information at such a large scale that even the NSA “piggybacks” off them for surveillance purposes.

The recent sales growth of smart speakers will only increase the breadth of data companies collect and analyze. Amazon and Google have both filed patents for technology that would essentially allow them to mine audio recordings for keywords. Advertisers could potentially target you with diapers before your family and friends even know you’re expecting a baby.

Following the ones and zeros

While web trackers and companies like Apple and Google are collecting a lot of personal and behavioral data, it’s the whales of the data ecosystem – data brokers – who are creating increasingly detailed profiles on almost everyone.

Data brokers trade on the privacy of consumers and operate in the shadows.

– Senator Al Franken (D-Minn)

The goal of data brokers, such as Experian or Acxiom, is to siphon up as much personal data as possible and apply it to profiles. This data comes from a wide variety of sources. Your purchases, financial history, internet activity, and even psychographic attributes are mixed with information from public records to create a robust dossier. Digital profiles are then sorted into one of thousands of categories to help optimize advertising efforts.

Fear the shadow profile?

According to Pew Research, 91% of Americans “agree” or “strongly agree” that people have lost control over how personal information is collected and used.

Though optimizing clickthroughs is a big business, companies are increasingly moving beyond advertising to extract value from their growing data pipeline. Amalgamated data is increasingly being viewed as a clever way to assess risk in the decision-making process (e.g. hiring, insurance, loan or housing applications), and the stakes for consumers are going up in the process.

For example, a man may feel comfortable sharing their HIV status on Grindr (for practical reasons), but may not want that information going to a third party. (Unfortunately, that really happened.)

In 2015, Facebook filed a patent for a service that would help insurance companies vet people based on the credit ratings of their social network.

The More You Know

Below the surface of our screens, our digital profiles continue to take shape.

Measures like adjusting website privacy controls and clearing cookies are a good start, but that’s only a fraction of the data companies are collecting. Not only do data brokers make it hard to officially opt out, their partnerships with corporations and advanced data collection methods cast such a wide net, that it’s almost impossible to exclude individual people.

Data brokers have operated with very little scrutiny or oversight, but that may be changing. Under intense public and governmental pressure, Facebook recently cut ties with data brokers. For a company that has bullishly pursued monetization of user data at every turn, the move is a sign that the public sentiment is changing.

The more information on the personal data industry, visit Cracked Labs’ report on the issue.

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The World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2019

Technology brands account for 20 of the world’s 100 most valuable brands in 2019, combining for a whopping 43% of total brand value.

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The World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2019

Brand equity can be a challenging thing to build.

Even with access to deep pockets and an innovative product, it can take decades of grit to scrape your way into the mainstream consciousness of consumers.

On the path to becoming established as a globally significant brand, companies must fight through fierce competition, publicity scandals, changing regulations, and rapidly-evolving consumer tastes – all to take a bite from the same piece of pie.

Cream of the Crop

Today’s visualization comes to us from HowMuch.net, and it showcases the 100 most valuable brands in the world, according to Forbes.

Here are the powerful brands that sit at the very top of the list:

RankBrandBrand Value ($B)1-Yr Value ChangeIndustry
#1Apple$205.5+12%Technology
#2Google$167.7+27%Technology
#3Microsoft$125.3+20%Technology
#4Amazon$97.0+37%Technology
#5Facebook$88.9-6%Technology
#6Coca-Cola$59.2+3%Beverages
#7Samsung$53.1+11%Technology
#8Disney$52.2+10%Leisure
#9Toyota$44.6+0%Automotive
#10McDonald's$43.8+6%Restaurants

It should be noted that the list is ordered by brand value, a measure that tries to calculate each brand’s ultimate contribution in financial terms to the parent company. You can see that full methodology here.

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that brands with only a token representation in the United States have been excluded from the rankings. This means companies like Alibaba or Vodafone are not represented in this particular visualization.

Tech Rules Again in 2019

For another straight year, technology dominates the list of the 100 most valuable brands in 2019 – this time, with six of the top seven entries.

Most of these brands saw double-digit growth in value from the previous year, including Apple (12%), Google (27%), Amazon (37%), Microsoft (20%), and Samsung (11%). The one notable exception here is Facebook, which experienced a 6% drop in value attributed to various struggles around the company’s reputation.

Here’s a look at how industries break down more generally on the list:

Industry# of BrandsBrand Value ($B)
Total100$2,231.9
Technology20$957.6
Financial Services13$198.1
Automotive11$208.9
Consumer Goods10$123.8
Retail8$133.0
Luxury6$124.1
Beverages4$49.3
Diversified4$56.8
Alcohol3$69.8
Apparel3$34.7
Business Services3$33.5
Restaurants3$73.0
Telecom3$24.3
Heavy Equipment2$36.7
Leisure2$19.8
Media2$34.8
Transportation2$41.1
Tobacco1$12.6

As you can see, technology brands make up 20% of the list in terms of the number of entries – and a whopping 43% of the list’s cumulative valuation.

In total, technologies brands combined for $957.6 billion in value. Even when including Facebook’s recent drop, this is an impressive 9.7% increase on last year’s numbers.

Will the double-digit increases for the world’s largest tech giants continue into 2020, or are brands such as Amazon and Google going to start seeing the same type of pushback that Facebook has grappled with among consumers and regulators?

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This Giant List of 100+ Marketing Stats Reveals What Actually Works

This massive infographic uses 100+ marketing stats to highlight the tactics that are working in modern-day digital universe.

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In just the last decade, the marketing world has been dramatically transformed.

Spending on digital media surpassed television ads in 2017, and now global digital spend is anticipated to top $333 billion this year.

As a result, today’s entrepreneurs and small businesses are starting to think about marketing in almost exclusively digital terms – and to have a successful online strategy, it’s important to see the data on what tactics are actually working.

Visualizing 100+ Marketing Stats

Today’s infographic comes to us from Serpwatch and it highlights seven of the most important digital marketing trends to keep an eye on this year.

Along the way, it highlights over 100 useful marketing stats that help to reveal the strategies and tactics that maximize ROI in the online arena.

This Giant List of 100+ Marketing Stats Reveals What Actually Works

It’s well known that digital media tactics – such as using social media, SEO, search, email, and content marketing – all offer unprecedented levels of analytics, customization, and segmentation for the modern marketer.

However, with so much to think about when using these techniques online and at scale, they can also be quite overwhelming.

Luckily, the above list provides some marketing stats that stand out in potentially helping businesses make the most out of their digital campaigns.

Stats That Stand Out

Here are some of the marketing stats from the above list that we thought stood out the most, for each category:

  • Search:
    The top five search results for a keyword on Google get 70% of the clicks.
  • Social media:
    80% of B2B leads come in through LinkedIn vs. 13% on Twitter and 7% on Facebook.
  • Video marketing:
    Video will represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2021.
  • Cold email marketing:
    Emails sent between 10-11am have the highest open rates. Tuesday is the best day to send cold emails.
  • Paid advertising:
    The mobile ad blocking rate has increased 90% year-over-year.
  • Lead generation:
    61% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge.
  • Content marketing:
    47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.

Although the digital marketing space is vast, the useful statistics above may help create some clarity for marketers trying to get the most out of their efforts in 2019 and beyond.

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