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Why Advertisers Need Data and Ethical Concerns in Data Collection

Marketers need data. Even in the pre-internet era, marketers made informed decisions with the data they had.

One of the critical areas of marketing where data plays an important role is advertising. Companies spend most of their budget every year to reach the audience and convey their message.

But ineffective campaign strategies would drive the costs high. But there are better ways to collect and analyze data now in the internet era. However, with great power comes great responsibilities.

Grab your aromatic coffee (or tea) and get ready…!

Why do advertisers want data?

Advertisers use data to know their audience and make better ads. They can learn about what consumers like and need by studying lots of data. This approach helps them improve their ads and make them more personal and fitting. 

Google, for example, uses lots of data to guess what consumers want, looking at things like what they’ve searched for, where they live, and popular topics. This data helps Google serve better ads for every user. 

Data also allows advertisers to guess future trends, leading to better marketing plans.

Here’s why advertisers need data to run better campaigns.

  1. Advertisers can get to know their audience better using data.
    Using data, advertisers can learn more about their audience’s traits, likes, habits, and wants. This helps them make ads that connect better. If an advertiser learns that their main audience is young women in fashion, they can design ads featuring the latest female fashion trends.
  2. Data lets advertisers check if their campaigns work.
    Advertisers can monitor how many people view, click, or buy from their ads using data. This lets them see which campaigns work best and tweak the ones that don’t. For instance, if an ad gets a lot of clicks but few sales, the advertiser can change the ad to make it more tempting.
  3. Advertisers can foresee upcoming trends with data.
    Reviewing past data can help advertisers spot patterns, giving them a heads-up on future hot products or services. This aids in crafting marketing strategies that are ahead of their time. For example, noticing an increasing trend for organic foods might push an advertiser to start a campaign for their organic product line.

Besides these, data also helps advertisers in:

  1. Getting the most out of their ad budget.
    Advertisers can make sure their money is well-spent by aiming their ads at the right crowd.
  2. Enhancing customer support.
    Understanding their customers better lets advertisers provide top-notch customer service.
  3. Creating brand loyalty.
    Making relevant and interesting ads can help advertisers build a loyal fanbase.

Examples of data that advertisers collect

Advertisers gather a lot of different data to understand better who they’re advertising to and make their ads more effective. Here are some examples of the kind of data they collect:

Visited websites: They keep track of what websites people visit to learn about their interests.

Viewed products: By tracking what products people look at, they can understand what people might want to buy.

Search history: They look at what people search for to know what they need or are interested in.

Location: They monitor where people are to understand their location-based preferences.

Popular topics: They track trends to see what’s hot right now.

They collect this data using tools like cookies and other trackers. By studying this data, advertisers can better understand how consumers behave and make more personalized and relevant ads.

Ethical concerns with data collection.

Data collection comes with ethical issues. These include consent, how data is stored and handled, and respecting the rights of those from whom data is collected. Ethically collecting data means respecting people’s rights, getting their explicit agreement, storing their data securely, and getting permission to use or share their data.

Consent is a big concern. People must fully understand how their data will be used and agree to it before it’s collected. Organizations should be honest and get this agreement, collecting data only for stated reasons. Sadly, some companies trick people into giving consent through confusing contracts, which isn’t always in line with the person’s wishes.

Data handling is another concern. Organizations need to store data safely and protect people’s privacy. This means not collecting sensitive personal info where possible and removing such information from datasets before analysis or sharing.

Lastly, the rights of people whose data is collected are essential. They should know what data is collected, how it’s used, and who it’s shared with. They should also be able to ask for their data to be deleted or fixed if it’s wrong.

Examples of companies that have violated ethical data collection practices

Several companies have broken ethical rules about collecting data. Yahoo, for instance, secretly scanned client emails and gave the data to the NSA. They didn’t tell or get permission from their customers, which invaded their privacy.

Facebook, too has been accused many times of wrongly handling user data. Back in 2018, we learned that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, had accessed private data from millions of Facebook users without their okay. They used this data to aim political ads during the 2016 US presidential election.

Laws and Regulations to ensure ethical data collection.

Many rules exist for collecting data, both globally and locally. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one famous rule from the EU. It helps people control their data and makes it easier for businesses to work internationally. It affects any company processing people’s personal data in the EU, no matter where the business is.

In the US, data privacy doesn’t have one primary law. Instead, they use regulations like HIPAA, FCRA, FERPA, GLBA, ECPA, COPPA, and VPPA. California was the first to have its data privacy law, similar to the European GDPR.

These rules guide companies on how to collect, keep, and use data. They also give people rights, like viewing their data and asking for it to be deleted or fixed if it’s wrong.


Advertisers heavily rely on data to understand their audience, create better advertisements, and foresee future market trends. Various tools like cookies and trackers aid in this data collection, enabling the creation of personalized and effective ads.

However, data collection is not without its ethical implications, including issues around consent, data handling, and the rights of individuals. A number of high-profile companies have been guilty of unethical data collection, demonstrating the importance of robust regulation.

To address this, several laws and regulations, like GDPR in the EU, HIPAA, FCRA, and more in the US, are in place to govern data collection and usage. Adherence to these ethical guidelines and legal regulations ensures a balance between effective advertising and respect for individual privacy.

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