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What big brands know about you

Technology has revolutionised the way brands connect with their audience. From using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, to showing up more prominently on search engines like Google, brands now know where the best place is to interact with you.

What big brands know about you

There have been so many technological advances that have played a role in changing the marketing industry. Data collection, for one, is a huge contributor to how marketers make their strategies today - a study by Forrester reveals that 36% of marketers actively use big data to improve their strategies. Big data includes analytics and numbers on what performs well, what drives traffic to their sites, where they get the most views, etc. This gives brands an advantage, as marketing experts at Ayima point out that having unique data can help them understand their market and audience far better. They can then come up with data-driven strategies that allow them to communicate better with audiences based on what they know.

Additionally, with the help of technological advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), digital marketing has taken strides in gaining an even deeper understanding of their customers and optimising marketing campaigns. All those content recommendations on YouTube and Netflix are a great example of this, as AI-based interpretation of consumer data continually adapts to your likes and dislikes and tailors recommendations in real time. AI even allows brands to find out what their audience thinks of them through sentiment analysis and social listening, by looking at conversations around their brand online and counteracting them as needed before issues get too big.

While the benefits of technology are impressive for marketers, the amount of data they must collect to better understand us must be huge, which calls into question - what exactly do businesses know about us?

An infographic by The Visual Capitalist shows big companies like Amazon and Google know a lot more than the average user realises - from our name and credit card numbers to our phone calls and personal messages.

The Data Big Tech Companies Have On You

While basic data such as our name, age, and location make sense in the context of social media or online purchases, some data that big companies know can be a little unnerving.

For instance, Facebook knows not just who your friends are, where you’ve been, and your personal details, but they also know your religious and political views, your ethnicity, and even your income level. If you have an Alexa or Google Home, these devices can store a full history of your searches, along with audio recordings of your voice.

Now that you’re aware of the pieces of data brands know about you, it can get quite scary - especially considering the number of breaches high-value companies go through regularly.

In 2019, Facebook encountered a data breach that involved 600 million passwords stored in plain text showed internally to over 20,000 employees. The possibility of more or even worse breaches can make anyone want to opt-in to more privacy-centred options.

That said, we’ve provided a list of ways you can keep and maintain your privacy online:

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1. Have a strong password and enable two factor authentication. Until foolproof biometric alternatives come along, it’s best to have strong security in the event of a breach.

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2. Use a private browser. If you’re familiar with incognito mode, that’s what we mean. Browsing this way means that your history won’t be saved and websites can’t track you.

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3. Use a VPN. A virtual private network (VPN) allows you to connect to websites through a remote server, which gives you privacy by hiding your Internet behaviour.

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4. Review permissions for mobile apps. Applications typically ask for permission before you can use them, such as if they can have access to your camera, contacts, etc. While some make sense, some permissions are just used to gather information to profile you. You can thankfully opt out of some of these permissions.

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5. Avoid oversharing online. A single post on social media is enough for brands to know what you like, where you are, and what you’re up to. While it isn’t bad to share a happy milestone, talking about your daily activities is just a huge beacon for brands and malicious hackers alike.

While it may not be possible to totally control the data that is collected without leaving the internet entirely, taking the steps to understand why some apps or platforms need your information will help you ensure that most of your data is private. Our tips are no guarantee that your digital privacy is locked down completely, but they definitely comprise a step in the right direction.

Written exclusively for by Karen Rose


CybACADEMY courses powered by GoldPhish® educates employees on the cyber risk and helps build a more secure organisation with awareness training.


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