Personalized Content and Ethical Data Collection.
Larry Lubin Mar 20 ,2019

Netflix and YouTube recommend what to watch next. Spotify plays the next song it thinks a listener will enjoy. Google and Facebook display advertisements in browsers, inboxes, and apps – all of which are geared to resonate with the user.

Yes, corporate giants use customer data in a myriad of intimate ways. The problem, however, is that the world’s big companies are selling data to third parties without consent, leaving millions worldwide up in arms.

The paradox remains; as citizens we are protective of our data, but as consumers we demand personalized service. Since we don’t often get to control our personal data when it is used to personalize services, there is a growing fear of the engine that makes this all possible. Is the collection of data for personalization a dark practice?


Before answering that question, it’s important to address why data collection for personalized video is controversial. No one wants to put their data in the hands of a corporate entity who may use is without consent. Of course, this decade has proved to be a losing battle for such individuals. Data breaches continue despite a plethora of scandalous and cautionary tales.


  • Cambridge Analytica/Facebook Scandal – One of the biggest news stories of 2018, the Cambridge Analytica data firm paid to acquire the personal info of Facebook users through an external researcher (Aleksandr Kogan). Kogan designed a personality quiz app to harvest data from over 300,000 individuals and exposed 87 million users’ personal info.
  • Yahoo – This one may have slipped from memory, but cyber attacks on Yahoo exposed 3 billion user accounts in 2013-2014. To make matters worse, Yahoo handled the crisis terribly, offering no transparency about the attack whatsoever.
  • Uber – in 2016, Uber was attacked by two hackers who then gained access to the personal details of 57 million users. They obtained names, email addresses, and phone numbers of users, as well as the driver’s license numbers of 600,000 Uber drivers. Much like Yahoo, Uber failed on the transparency front, admitting they had been hacked a year later.

Of course, there have been several more hacks throughout the decade, affecting the likes of eBay, Target and more. Exposed to these stories, a growing group of consumers have become vocally concerned about their data privacy and will do whatever they can to protect it. That usually means avoiding brands that are too intrusive.


Avoidance of overly-intrusive brands comes as no surprise. In one survey, 75% of participants found personalization to be a bit creepy. Yet still, there are surveys which show that consumers want more personalized experiences. For example, a SalesForce study found that 62% of customers expect companies to send personalized offers or discounts based on items they’ve already purchased.

These numbers put brands in a frustrating bind. The philosophical question becomes: “To personalize or not to personalize?”

In a blog article written by Justin Dallaire for Strategy Online, he highlights the paradox.

“Consumers who believe that handing over data can lead to greater personalization – which they want – while being wary of the possible consequences, is something of a personalization paradox.”

Laws and legislation are also starting to play a part. Initiatives such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018, has made it tougher for companies who rely on sensitive data to collect it in the first place.

With changing laws, paradoxical consumer perception, and a never-ending ethical debate, the question as to whether data collection is a dark practice remains unanswered.


In short, the answer is “no”. Data collection isn’t new and it’s essential to keep basic systems and strategies running. The fact that consumers don’t have to provide consent first makes the populace uneasy.


Ultimately, a company can’t use what’s not given to them. For the creation of a personalized video, data needs to be collected, but the parties involved can set limits on what data to collect. The key here is to only collect information that is explicitly relevant to creating personalization.

For example, a personalized video bill for a telecom customer would need to collect essential data such as their address, billing information, and mobile data usage. Any other data collected would be miscellaneous and potentially seen as intrusive.

A personalized video is also self-contained. The information gathered about a customer would never be posted anywhere else (ie. For advertising purposes). It should stay between the service provider and the customer. It should only be retrieved when customers interact with the brand or when the brand interacts with its customers.

Better yet, brands can reassure customers that their data is protected in the form of a disclaimer, which will put customers at ease. Disclosure makes customers aware, builds trust, and holds companies accountable.

personalized video billing ebook


Data collection is an activity that all organizations practice, especially in the internet age, but remains a modern security threat. Tech giants and media powerhouses are using complex algorithms to make recommendations that often feel too intrusive. Nevertheless, data collection can be kept in its right place so that customers don’t feel as if their privacy is at stake. For those who are looking to create personalized videos and another form of content, transparency is the key to accomplishing this. Telling customers exactly what their data will be used for will make them more trusting and forge an overall stronger client relationship.

About the author: Larry Lubin

Larry Lubin

As original founder, Chairman and CEO of Fitech, now part of CGI, Larry began innovating in sales, software development, and financial services. Many leading applications for Financial Institutions including the Reality Check™ series for Scotia Bank were developed by Larry and his Fitech team.

His vision of an optimized and fully integrated sales and customer experience that leverages the power of technology is at the heart of every solution today.

In September of 2003, BlueRush was created with the mission to create the ultimate customer experience. BlueRush currently works with many of North America’s leading financial services, healthcare and consumer packaged


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