Data exhaust refers to digital traces which people leave behind while using the internet. It is raw and unstructured, but can surely work to your advantage and lead to successful marketing campaigns. Data exhaust allows you to see the data which are not core to your business but can help to understand your customers’ habits.
How It Works for Google
Data exhaust can be well recycled – all it needs is a thoughtful approach. And this is exactly what Google does. It sees every user interaction as a signal which retrospectively influences the system. For example, if users repeatedly choose to click on a certain search result but leave after just a few seconds, they are basically saying they are not satisfied with the outcome. As a result, Google can adjust website order based on user demand. Sounds easy? However, here is the tricky part: the amount of data at your disposal is probably nowhere near what Google already has. Existing market leaders have enormous amounts of data and therefore also significant competitive advantage. They can further use it as a part of their know-how and improve the services they offer.
The Risky Part
Using data exhaust for marketing purposes is just one possibility. Digital footprint can also be sold or exchanged across companies. Some firms even decide to share the data publicly in order to promote their name and contribute to the industry. However, none of this is without risk. Before using data exhaust, you need to make sure not to mishandle the data or reveal any confidential information. User tracking can conflict with security and privacy – that’s why ensuring you have customers’ consents for specific data use is always a good idea.
Data exhaust is usually not immediately valuable but the trick is to figure out how it could be. Otherwise you might end up storing useless data forever or, on contrary, never using the useful ones.
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