Why Google CFO’s ‘Data Is Like Sunshine’ Comment Is Good For Marketers

Google wants to change the way we think about data. To prompt change, the company’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, downplayed rhetoric claiming that “data is the new oil.”

Instead, Porat says that data “is like sunshine—we keep using it, and it keeps regenerating.”

Google is motivated to curb a public perception involving big tech’s use, and sometimes misuse, of consumer data. Just yesterday, France fined Google $57 million for failing to meet Europe’s new installation of privacy rules, more infamously known as GDPR.

A French watchdog group called CNIL says that Google doesn’t clearly disclose how and where user data will be used. It also called Google’s data capturing strategy “particularly massive and intrusive.”

Porat’s “sunshine” metaphor is, without question, a strategic attempt to reframe a cloudy subject for Google and all big tech companies.

And here’s the thing—she isn’t wrong.

Consumer fears over privacy issues are indeed not unfounded. The landscape for marketing is changing at a furious rate; data is at the epicenter of these evolutions.

Porat cited data-usage examples that inspire positive change on a global level. For instance, she discusses data collection’s role in breast cancer detection.

Porat’s comments, while clearly strategic, should also serve to remind marketers of the importance of properly obtained consumer data to ROI.

How Porat’s Quote Impacts Marketers Like You (And Us)?

We’ve entered a marketing era where data is the top influencer. Marketers who can’t leverage data in their PPC campaigns will struggle. Using data properly fosters a symbiotic relationship between marketer and consumer.

The consumer likes and wants athletic shoes. The marketer wants to sell athletic shoes to people who want them. As has always been the case, the marketer and consumer can coexist.

But without leveraging data, everyone loses.

In other words, the collection of data has positive consequences, something Porat attempted to point out by simultaneously quelling comparisons to finite oil reserves.

Who doesn’t love sunlight?

The protection of consumer data is on everyone’s mind, including your local politicians. No one will argue the merits of such a mindset. But Porat’s potentially inadvertent data collection blessing through a metaphor is something that all marketers need to consider.

The use of data supports competent decision making. Strategic data use is not new; similar approaches can be traced back to the inception of the Nielsen ratings system. Founder Arthur C. Nielsen began a career leveraging consumer data in the 1920s and 1930s in advertising, including radio advertising. Consumers opted to record their activities in a way that helped marketers decide the fate of large-scale advertising campaigns.

Just like Nielsen ratings’ use of data, online data similarly supports improved customer engagement, demographic precision, and general marketing optimization agendas.

For marketing, data serves as a long-standing essential component to the machine. Being scrupulous with that data is a responsibility marketers must shoulder. Because, let’s face it, nefarious marketing has caused warranted criticism.

While further restrictions on data are a near certainty, marketing by way of leveraging data is here to stay. And that may mean sunny days ahead for both marketers and consumers.

About The Author

Cory Hedgepeth is a staff writer and Senior Digital Marketing Strategist for Direct Online Marketing. He covers trending news in search engine optimization, email marketing, and social media. Cory has contributed to Clutch, CustomerThink, the Institute For Entrepreneurial Excellence at Pitt, and major publications like USA Today over the span of 10-plus years. His career in digital marketing began in 2001. Today he consults for global brands on search engine optimization strategy, including content marketing efforts. He’s a diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan who bravely faces their annual playoff choke jobs.

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