The toll at the Hudson River Bridge in New York doesn’t take cash anymore. A camera takes a picture of your license plate. They send you a bill.
Hold that thought.
Millennials — there are 1.8 billion of them in the world today, so they matter a lot — are wired into their networks on every device you can imagine, all the time. Talk in person? Sure, to laugh about the comments they posted on each other’s profile.
Hold that thought.
Privacy is a voluntary concept for web marketers, the Wall Street Journal concludes. You can’t hide your personal information — dozens and dozens of sites have it. In fact, they have it in such detail that you’d be dismayed.
Another site sharing considerable information, the free dating service OKCupid, sent usernames to one company; gender, age and ZIP Code to seven companies; sexual orientation to two companies; and drug-use information—do you use drugs “never,” “sometimes” or “often”?—to six companies. It also sent an anonymized version of email addresses to a firm that says it uses them to help businesses get information about customers in their email lists.
All of these sites, sitting on megatons of personal data, and when asked the CEOs say, “Trust us, we won’t violate your privacy.”
Reassurances like that make commentators like Alan Patrick of Broadstuff apoplectic.
How do these three things go together?
For marketers and media companies, we’re in a brilliant and fragile moment, fraught with risk and opportunity.
The biggest consumers in the biggest generation of the millennium — the Millenials themselves — are willing to give us that trust in order to give them the tools and resources that create the experiences and connections they’ve come to value. As Pew Research shows, Millenials define themselves by technology and innovation. They don’t mind taking some risks. They embrace the power.
So what if the government is taking a photo of every car that goes in and out of Manhattan and running it against a database of registrations?
So what if a dating site knows who likes girls, who likes boys and who likes both?
Don’t cross the line though. The second we cross that line of trust, the trust that when a Millenial gives you a piece of their digital identity we will use it to their benefit, they will cut us off cold.
What did my Millenial son say?
“Don’t be weird.”
That’s the secret to Millenial marketing. Don’t be weird.