Can Marketers Use Big Data Without Compromising Privacy?

Edelman, Cambridge University aim to find out

How can marketers and public officials balance using data to advance commercial strategies with consumer expectations of how that information should be applied?

PR giant Edelman and the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre aim to find out via a study that explores the application and impact of predictive technologies in business and public policy. The project will focus on the ethical and organizational implications of using big data and its impact on consumer behavior and trust.

"Our clients have been asking us to look around corners and see future outcomes here but there hasn’t been a definitive study before this," explained Gail Becker, Edelman president, strategic partnerships and global integration.

In the next twelve months, Edelman and Cambridge will survey consumers in the U.S. and U.K. before gathering academics, marketers, technologists and entrepreneurs to assess the results. Among other things, the study will examine consumer privacy concerns and the ethical implications of using predictive data in sensitive areas like insurance.

"Trust is a really important component in this: What does trust look like in this new era of data and information?" said Jonathan Hargreaves, global vice chair of the technology sector at Edelman. "The danger is if it is misused and the opportunity to create a better society will be missed."

Edelman already puts out an annual trust and credibility survey, the Edelman Trust Barometer, which is now in its 14th year.

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