Ask the Board – August 29, 2016 | MARGOT MYERS


What is the most controversial issue in the digital signage industry right now and why?

As digital signage end users search for better ways to personalize messaging to their target audiences, privacy issues have become a controversial issue. Where is the line between legal use of information and an invasion of privacy?

At the recent Retail Analytics Council conference, Matt Schneider, Assistant Professor, Medill/Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University, said that data privacy and security are “hot-button issues” today. Data sets often include thousands of variables and millions of observations. Schneider said that it is usually better to be in the information business than the privacy business, but now, privacy is becoming more of a priority because of brand positioning, competitive poaching and lawsuits.

When using personal information about a consumer, there’s a line between what’s creepy and what’s cool. If I walk into a store and a beacon senses my smartphone and triggers a personalized message on a digital sign, that’s a little creepy (unless you’re a technology nerd like me). If I’m in a dressing room with a “smart” mirror that suggests accessories that complement the outfit I’m trying on, and gives me an opportunity to summon a sales associate with that item for me to try, that’s cool.

Network operators need to ensure that their use of data doesn’t cross the line where consumers feel uncomfortable and turn away from their brand. Protecting privacy is both a legal and a moral imperative.


About Author

Director, Global Marketing & Communications
The Platt Retail Institute

Industry Consultants Council

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