Retail / eCom

Targeting shoppers online? Be careful

Alex Jefferson, e-commerce director at Proctor Dealerships in Tallahassee, Fla., loves how big data allows him to target used-vehicle shoppers with ads on social media.

For as little as 30 cents a click, he can reach a specific audience with ads that roll right on the Facebook newsfeed of current and prospective customers, Jefferson said.

The use of big data to target customers more specifically online and cut marketing costs was a hot topic at the Digital Dealer Conference & Exhibition that brought together dealership staff and marketing experts for a three-day confab this month.

But the happy talk was not without storm clouds.

Several session presenters noted a looming regulatory crackdown aimed at protecting consumer privacy. Big data is collecting data from multiple Web sites and crunching it to find shoppers.

Lawmakers and regulators from California to Canada and the European Union are pushing rules that require businesses to inform shoppers that they are being tracked online and that the data are being shared or could be shared with third parties, said Kevin Frye, e-commerce director for the 13-dealership Jeff Wyler Automotive Family in the Cincinnati area.

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