Authors:Kevin Mellet (Orange Labs)
Thomas Beauvisage (Orange Labs)
Paper short abstract:
Big data technology seems to have achieved the transformation of personal data into a commodity. In this contribution, we wish to question this (common) vision of assetization-as-commodification by paying attention to the actual status and uses of personal data in markets and within firms.
Paper long abstract:
In a 2011 report entitled "Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class", the World Economic Forum stated that "personal data will be the new 'oil' - a valuable resource of the 21st century." The report advocates the assetization of personal data through its literal monetization, and forecasts huge benefits for companies as well as individuals' empowerment.
In this contribution, we wish to question this vision of assetization-as-commodification by paying attention to the actual status and uses of personal data. We build upon an empirical investigation of market intermediaries in the marketing and advertising industries.
First, we analyze the repeated and unsuccessful attempts to create a C2B market for personal data, and the underlying conception of personal data marketization as a trade-off between privacy and the benefits of tailored services (Acquisti, 2010). This failure can be considered as a 'performativity failure' of economic models and related experiments.
Secondly, we investigate the actual markets for personal data, a B2B activity strongly linked with marketing and advertising services. We show that personal data can be commodified and traded, especially by 'data brokers', but as derivates adding value to advertising products in the form of contacts, segments or attributes. We finally argue that the spreading of tracking technologies and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) inside private companies contributes to transform datasets into 'datassets', that can either compete or articulate with third party, commodified, data.
Turning Things into Assets