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What Do Brands Know About You?
By: Maryann Fabian
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Want to check out the data that marketers have been collecting about you? There’s a new website, in beta testing, that allows you to not only see but also edit the information that companies use to send you targeted ads.

The site was launched as an effort at transparency in these days when we're almost paranoid wondering who's been listening to our calls and reading our emails and Facebook posts. Or afraid to Google "pressure cookers" because Big Brother might think you want build a bomb instead of learn how to cook a roast in twenty minutes. It's run by Acxiom, a data, analytics, and software company. And you may be surprised just how much is known about you. Besides your address, age and race, it gets quite detailed.

Shocker: It can also be wrong. It said I was Hispanic and collected dolls. Go figure. Although it explains some of the odd direct mail offers I’ve been getting in Spanish and the issue of Latina magazine that appeared in my mailbox.

Companies use two categories of data: core data and derived insights. Core data is more or less the facts about you such as your email address and phone number. Derived insights are inferred by the core data — whether you smoke or like doll collecting, for example. It helps brands piece together which products might interest you. The information can come from public records, companies who tell Acxiom about your purchases, surveys, and even postings.

But then, you already knew that. What makes this interesting is that consumers can now get a glimpse behind the screen and give feedback.

Without further ado, because you’ll want to check it out now, the site is called aboutthedata.com. May the data be good to you.

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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