Chances are, you have received advertisements through the mail that just happen to be something you have been interested in for a while now. It is quite possible that this is not a coincidence as you might have been thinking as it would be more likely a data broker sold information, your information, to business.
Those who have some knowledge about what data brokers are and what it is that their job entails them to do will not be shocked at hearing this. However, those that were not aware of this already are about to learn something new.
The data brokering industry has become a multi-billion-dollar business. This industry is a combination of different companies that gather and collect data information on consumers to sell to various companies, generally, to use for the purpose of sales and marketing.
Just how much do they know about you? And how much revenue are they making from your information data? For the answer to this and more, check the details in our infographics out.
We are going, to begin with, a little background information on data brokers. Basically, the companies that collect data information on people can retrieve it through their purchase history, from public records, and through online activities. The purpose of gathering data information on people is to re-sell that information to different companies for their marketing purposes. Data brokers spend most of their time gathering as much information as possible about consumers, for the more a company knows about a person, the better chance of successfully targeting them with their advertisements.
There are more than 4,000 data broker companies in the world today. The biggest one of them is the Acxiom company, which has 23,000 servers gathering/collecting and analyzing the data of consumers. They do this for 500 million different consumers across the globe, with as many as 3,000 data points given for each consumer. Keep in mind, these calculations only cover one single company!
So, where do these data brokers gather their information from? With more than ‘1,400 different leading brands’ in stores that are selling data information of the consumers who buy their products to data brokers. Meaning that you may have signed up at some point for a store credit card or for their loyalties; maybe you have done this at several different stores. If this is the case, the information you gave at the store or stores was more than likely purchased by a data broker.
It could be one or more of the stores that you signed up at, and you may have also been added to a wide variety of databases. For instance, you may have signed up at one of your local pet stores to get a loyalty card; if so, that store could have sold your information not to just one company, but they may have sold your data information to a number of different companies who are interested in marketing to owners of Pet(s).
This is somewhat a new industry; however, data brokers have already collected information on a large part of the population. In fact, Towerdata already has 80% of the U.S. email addresses on file, and Equifax has information available on the pay stubs of 38% of working Americans. Additionally, the databases of ProPublica and CampaignGrid has data information that is political, which include campaign contributions and different party affiliations of 80% of America’s registered voters.
One could assume that some part of their data is in a file with the data brokers. We will now look at this information’s worth to data brokers, as well as what it is worth to ourselves.
How Much Is Data Worth?
What’s Your Data Worth to Brokers?
Come to find out, the data of consumers is quite valuable! Over a period, an email address fetches as much as $89 dollars from a brand name. Which makes it sensible for them to pay for this sort of consumer data. In today’s world, data brokering has become a $200 billion dollar industry, with no signs of this changing anytime soon.
So, how do they make a profit? Of course, all companies have their own way of operating, although they will usually sell their consumer data like contact information of people who fit a specific category. The majority of these are divided according to their characteristics and interest, such as those that go to the gym regularly or compulsive shoppers.
There are some cases that are questionable. There is this one company that was selling lists consisting of one-thousand people who had various health conditions, such as anxiety, substance abuse, anorexia, etc., and received $79 dollars for each.
What is the Worth of a Consumers Information to Their self?
Consumers are not going to make much of a profit by using their own information as a data broker, but at least 43% of today’s data brokers enable consumers to opt-out. Opting out takes a good deal of time, although well worth it. However, if you are the kind of person who does not appreciate your personal information being sold to others, you can go to reputation.com, and for $99 annually, they can make sure your information stays completely out of those databases.
Now, if you have nothing against your information being sold, and if you are interested in making some of those profits yourself – there are ways that you can do just that. One of the places where you are able to get in on the profits is Datacoup, this company will pay consumers $8 dollars monthly to let them gain access to their social media accounts, and they are also interested in your data from transactions on your credit card (the information helps in targeting consumers shopping habits so they can be categorized on lists they sell). This program has been discontinued, although others may follow suit in the future!
Should you be one of the people that are not comfortable with others collecting your personal information, then the following section may appeal to you.