When personalisation becomes just plain creepy

As a marketer and self-confessed Mad Men enthusiast, I don’t mind being subjected to advertisements. In fact, I enjoy it.

From sponsored social media content to ‘personalised’ emails,  I love checking out what’s trending in the marketing world.

That was until recently.

I was visiting my friend, Alex, when I noticed this personalised brochure from Latitude Finance sitting on his bench. At first, I thought it was pretty cool – I mean, they literally printed his name on the front of the brochure.



However, my excitement wore off quickly when Alex mentioned that he wasn’t a Latitude Finance customer. I was enraged. How on earth did Latitude Finance gain access to Alex’s details?



Convinced that there must be a logical explanation, I searched for the terms and conditions listed on the brochure.  

It was there, in the often overlooked tiny writing, that I read something that shook me to my marketing-nerd core:

“For this mailing your details were obtained from Equifax Australia Marketing Services Pty Limited. If you wish to opt-out from receiving future pre-screened credit offers, please go to https://www.donotcontact.com.au

– Latitude Finance



Simply put, Latitude Finance sent Alex this ‘pre-screened’ offer to refinance his loans based on information from his credit report supplied by Equifax, the world’s leading consumer credit reporting agency.



So, let’s say that Latitude Finance wanted to target males under 30 with a positive credit score and a loan or two at another lender. Well, Latitude is able to gain access to a list of names and postal addresses of individuals who fit this criteria through Equifax’s data service, even if said individuals are not Latitude Finance customers.  

Equifax calls this “data-driven digital targeting” to help “tailor offers by financial and economic profile”. I call it creepy.



Coincidentally, Latitude’s use of Equifax’s data service comes just months after Latitude Finance CEO, Sean Morrissey, publicly pledged to grow their loan book ‘responsibly’ in light of findings from the Banking Royal Commission. Sorry, Sean, I’m not sure that accessing people’s personal credit information to sell your loan products is particularly responsible.



And it’s not just Latitude Finance using big data to drive marketing campaigns. In fact, a recent study found that 80% of Australian companies use big data in their marketing strategies.

More importantly, only 61% of these companies are concerned with privacy and regulatory concerns. Perhaps the remaining 39% need reminding about the recent Facebook privacy debacle.



Despite the uptake of big data in business, it seems that as customers we are becoming increasingly aware of how much of our personal information is being collected and commercialised.

“Customers are looking for more transparent models. They know data is being harvested, and in many ways, they’re OK with it where it fulfills a specific need. They just want control over it.”

– Klaus Heuser, founder of Sooloox.

So, what does the future hold for the use of big data in the marketing industry? Given today’s privacy-savvy consumers, businesses need to focus on transparent marketing efforts which involve their audience in a privacy dialogue.

Earning customers trust by disclosing what personal information will be gathered and for what purpose will allow businesses the opportunity to harness big data while addressing privacy concerns and avoiding being branded as creepy.

Unfortunately, it looks like Latitude Finance missed the memo.


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>