You know the basic facts: You have an account here, an account there, and an account almost everywhere. But sometimes you wonder: “Why do I receive advertising from this company? I never gave my data to this company?!”
Your data is valuable
Information is one of the most valuable resources of our time. And this is also the case for your personal and private data. One of the plain truths of the internet is the fact that companies create profiles of their customers and sell this data. You provide this data by creating a (free) account, taking part in competitions, or by joining telephone surveys regarding your household. Your data will be used by the companies at least internally. But better clarify that at the very beginning: Not every company is selling your data. There are black and white sheep in every family 😉
There is nothing wrong if companies are just using your data internally. You will receive advertising from this company which fits your needs and desires. And this advertising actually could become interesting for you. In the end, you have handed over your data to this company and it’s allowed to work with this data as long as you don’t object.
But of course, it’s poor behavior if the company is selling your data unbeknownst to you.
Which data is collected – and why?
Our world is becoming more and more digitized and the collection of data has now become mandatory. This data often has a connection to you as a real person. This also has its advantages! If you have a request, a company with your data knows it comes from a valid source and your issue should be solved. There are also disadvantages for you as a customer: If the company has a request (e.g. late payments) they have your data and are able to contact you or react accordingly.
Who is buying this data – and what do they do with it?
So-called “information brokers” deal with your data and sell them to interested companies. And there are interested companies from every field of business. Armed with this data, these companies are able to operate highly targeted ads.
Beside other marketplaces, these companies are divided by their operational focus:
- General data retrieval: Infochimps, Qlik, DataStreamX, qDatum
- Business orientated data retrieval: Azure Marketplace, DMI, Dawex
- Finances: Quandl, Benzinga, Airex
- API’s (Application Programming Interface): Mashape, D&B
- List broker: The Data Exchange
As you can see there are marketplaces for different needs. But which company did sell my data, though?
The advertising/spam reveals the data seller
We can not tell you something about advertisements which you received as a result of past registrations. But with his ‘life pro tip‘ the Reddit user mc1nc4 hit the nail on the head. It paves the way for more insights on your future registrations:
When you sign up for anything online, put the websites’ name as your middle name. That way, when you receive spam/advert emails, you will know who sold your info.
If there is no input field for the middle name easily extend your first or last name. The name in the salutation doesn’t fit the companies name which sent you the ad? Et voilá.
It’s so easy to get things straight concerning where the advertisements are coming from.