Is Big Media Holding Us Hostage?

Mass Media

By Guy Mastrion

Its been going in for years now. Companies like Time Warner, Comcast, and Optimum have been amassing stockpiles of aggregate information that can be used to quantify everything. Categorizing eyeballs on content, purchase behavior, viewing behavior, calling behavior, hobbies, interests, health concerns, you name it.

Where is it?

Im not talking about the standard fare of broadcast program demographic; Im talking deep data, which delivers a more articulated consumer profile.

For decades weve been studying consumer behavior in the retail environment, and now the retail environment is in our own homes.

The crossroads of digital technology, programming, and retail combine to give us the potential for powerful insight into behaviors that indicate purchase intent and, of course, purchase itself.

For those seekers of healthcare information, the world-wide-web has become the first stop in a process of self-education and insight.

What can a media conglomerate tell us about the other media-related behaviors of consumers who spend time on WebMD or some other health resource Website, watch health related programming on TV, record health and lifestyle shows to their DVDs, and call 800 numbers?

Should they tell us anything?

Owning this convergence of data gives them great power and also a great responsibility too. Will the big media companies emerge as the new agencies, mining their own deep data and delivering for marketers a proprietary look into the hearts and minds of customers? I think its already starting to take shape, as traditional publishing and media firms are buying up and building what was once considered traditional agency resources and capabilities.

Would it violate medical privacy laws or would it violate constitutional law, if we learn that person X living on main street USA spends three hours per week on HIV related Web sites?

Big media are holding almost all the cards. They know where we live, who we are, what we watch on TV, Web sites we use and for how long, what we buy, who we call, what shipping companies we use, how much email we receive.

Its a staggering amount of information.

Who is the rightful owner of this data? The media company that acts as a pipeline into our homes? The content creators and broadcast companies that capture our attention and drive us to the digital realm? Should we own our own data and should we be allowed to control who gets to see it, or what portions of it, or even allow us the opportunity to sell it to marketers? Should marketers still be allowed to purchase this type of data, especially as it becomes more and more personal? What if an insurance company buys it? How would it be used?

As a marketer I say hell yeah, show me the data, as a consumer, Im not so sure.

Where and when do privacy laws usurp the rule of commerce? Should we care?

Whats your perspective?

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4 Responses to Is Big Media Holding Us Hostage?

  1. Becky says:

    Do advertisers really need to know more about us than they already do? What will this additional information tell them that they dont already know? Does Big Brother need to know EVERYTHING?

  2. admin says:


    Communication and Regulatory Experts to Outline Best Practices for
    Compliant Data Dissemination in the New Era of FDA

    NEW YORK, September 11, 2009 Public relations and regulatory compliance experts will outline best practices for sharing data with media and advocacy groups, and responding to external queries, at the 2009 Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) annual conference in Philadelphia. The discussion is timely given the recent announcement by newly appointed FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, that the Agency is laying a new foundation for enforcement that makes regulatory compliance a priority at every stage of drug development from pre-approval to post-marketing.

    The external communications environment is complex and fast moving. “Media are looking for high-impact stories, social media continues to be uncharted regulatory territory, and multiple audiences are operating across a variety of media outlets, says Barbara Box, New York and Chicago Healthcare President, Weber Shandwick. “In the new era of FDA, we all have a responsibility to align ourselves around compliant strategies for data dissemination.

    Ilyssa Levins, President of the Center for Communication Compliance (CCC), outlines four steps to achieve alignment between public relations and regulatory professionals:

    Commit to teamwork
    Make a culture of compliance a priority
    Get everyone on the same regulatory baseline through training and certification, and
    Implement best practices in compliance.

    “In this way, everyone achieves their objectives without running afoul of regulations, she states.

    Lucy Rose, regulatory expert and former FDA official, agrees: “In this environment, a team regulatory approach leads to a better functioning operation more productive meetings and program ideas that see the light of day. Rose is president of Lucy Rose and Associates.

    The panel discussion, which will take place on September 15th, 2009 at 8:30 am at the Philadelphia Convention Center, is moderated by Peter Carson, EVP, Healthcare Public Affairs, Powell Tate. Panelists will include Barbara Box, Lucy Rose, Sheryl Williams, VP, Public Affairs, Cephalon, and Ilyssa Levins.
    # # #

    Ǭ∑ For more information on RAPS, please visit <> <>

    Ilyssa Levins, President
    Center for Communication Compliance (CCC)
    p: 212-361-9868, f:212-980-3760
    303 E 57th Street, Suite 21B, NY, NY 10022 <>

  3. admin says:

    Guy found this article which reinforces some of the points in his post:

  4. admin says:

    This article on the Future of Twitter also reinforces Guy’s point.