Turning the Data Black Box Inside Out

A small retailer wants to open a new store. Who does she turn to? A good real estate agent is hard to find and trust. And research is hard to do. What if the data that was collected by the over 4,000 companies who profit from our behavior was somehow turned inside out and offered back to us? LiveRamp, one of the largest data brokers in the world (that we know of), has 3,000 data points on 900 million people around the globe. LiveRamp (formerly known as Acxiom) sells this data. Buyers are typically advertisers and financial institutions. But what if LiveRamp, Google, Facebook, Experian and all the rest offered up this data in a way that would more meaningfully impact the prospects of this small time retailer? What if she could find out where best to open her new store based on data? What if she could find out what products people might be most interested in buying? What if she could use data to optimize her new store like Amazon does? With small retailers suffering rising real estate prices and the Amazon Effect this seems like it might be a welcome service. It would be, in many ways, turning the data black box inside out to better serve people. Imagine, in fact, how all that collected data might help us as creators.

For more on data collection, Cracked Labs in Vienna, Austria, has done extensive research on the largest brokers. Here’s an infographic from them depicting what kinds of data about us LiveRamp and Oracle collects.