Home > Articles > Business & Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Data and Value

As with other economic systems, at the heart of the data economy is value. As we will discuss, organizations have made it clear that they see tremendous value in consumer data. Some have explicitly said as much. Others have revealed it through their actions. Depending on the organization we’re discussing, there are a number of ways in which detailed data have been turned into value.

Collecting and storing data should be viewed as an investment. As with other investments, the question that organizations should be able to answer is, what is the payoff associated with compiling databases? Police forces, for example, have turned to predictive analytics. In addition to the hardware and software investment, there’s a cost associated with hiring the analytic talent to conduct the necessary analyses. Here, the payoff can be viewed as increased public safety, as manifested through a reduction in crime.

Google demonstrated that certain search terms are correlated with flu activity.11 From a public health perspective, such information could be useful in determining when it is most essential to ramp up efforts to encourage individuals to get vaccinated. Health insurance providers may take such efforts upon themselves, looking at the potential savings associated with reducing the number of hospitalizations. Employers may also promote vaccinations, hoping to curb the amount of worker productivity that is lost due to workers taking time off to recuperate. Viewing this problem from another perspective, pharmaceutical companies could identify the value of such data if it would enable them to make more efficient use of their marketing budgets. As you can see from this one example, the potential value associated with a particular piece of data depends on the organization’s goals.

Although these two illustrations demonstrate what can be gained by organizations turning to data that is generally available, consider briefly data that may not be available for public consumption: a consumer’s purchasing habits. Consider simply the question of how strongly you prefer Coca-Cola to Pepsi. If Coca-Cola knew which consumers were only interested in its products, which consumers were only interested in Pepsi’s product, and which consumers did not have a strong preference, it might change the way it approached marketing to each of these different consumers.

It might decide, for example, to spend just enough on marketing to loyal Coca-Cola consumers to encourage them to purchase more frequently. For these consumers, though, the company is not worried about them switching over to their competitor. For those consumers loyal to Pepsi, it may not make sense for Coca-Cola to exert any effort marketing toward these individuals. If their brand preferences are so strongly in favor of Pepsi over Coca-Cola, there’s little that Coca-Cola would be able to do to sway them. For the consumers in the middle, perhaps that’s where Coca-Cola’s (and Pepsi’s) marketing efforts have the potential to have the biggest impact.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi, as well as all other publically traded companies, are in the businesses of what’s best for their shareholders, but we could also apply the same thinking to the presidential election. Across the country, there are states that are deep blue and there are states that are deep red. Although a candidate could pour money into advertising in those states where his party has not fared well historically, barring a huge shift in the demographics of the state, such advertising expenditures are not expected to yield much of a payoff. Instead, what we are left with is a deluge of advertising concentrated in battleground states, specifically in counties where the advertising is expected to yield the biggest impact.

As we’ll discuss in more depth, not all data are equally valuable. Detailed data about the television programs viewed by a voter who lives in Wisconsin’s Dane county are likely to be of less value compared to the same data about a voter who lives in Ohio’s Hamilton county. Some pundits considered both Ohio and Wisconsin to be battleground states, so why the difference in the likely value of data from voters in these two counties? Dane county leans heavily to the left, as reflected by the 71.1% of the vote received by President Obama. In contrast, President Obama received only 51.8% of the votes coming out of Hamilton county. Political advertising can exert some sway on voters, but there’s a limit to its effectiveness. Given the strong leaning of Dane county, not much could have been done there by either party to sway voters. Hamilton County, in contrast, was identified as one of the seven most important counties in the 2012 election by The Washington Post.12 If campaigns knew the programs that different types of voters in Hamilton county were watching, such data could be used to ensure that advertising occurred in the programs viewed by the voters they were most interested in reaching. Regardless of context, the determining factor in how much data are worth to an organization is based on what the organization can do with the data and whether having the data can potentially further the organization’s goals.

Although the ability to take actions that affect consumer behavior is necessary for data to be of value, a few other conditions will affect just how valuable an individual’s particular data are to an organization. First, there needs to be a sufficient number of consumers who are “like you” with regard to your preferences and attitudes. If your outlook is so idiosyncratic that an organization can’t identify other consumers who are similar to you, it’s simply too inefficient for that organization to acquire your data and take actions tailored to you. There just isn’t the scale for this to be viable. Fortunately, it turns out that consumers are not as different from one another as they might think. Or, more precisely, they are similar enough that they can be grouped together into consumer segments, enabling organizations to pick and choose the segments on which they want to focus their efforts.

In addition to there being enough consumers like you, how much an organization is willing to spend on your data hinges on how valuable you (or the segment to which you belong) are to the organization. Frequent travelers are of interest to the airline and hotel industries because of the volume of business they generate, so they may provide these individuals with a separate telephone number for customer service, express check-in, or other perks. Casinos pay particular attention to their high rollers and provide them with a number of complimentary offerings to attract and retain their business because the amount that the casino stands to gain from the individual’s gambling activities can be quite substantial. Undecided voters in swing states are targeted because they can decide which presidential candidate receives the state’s electoral votes. In short, the segment has to matter to the organization.

With all these factors in place, ultimately the value of your data to organizations depends on how readily available such data are from other consumers. Although all consumers may be distinct from each other, the intent in forming a small number of market segments is to identify groups of consumers who are similar enough to each other and sufficiently different from other consumers. Claritas put this into practice with its Potential Rating Index for Zip Markets (more commonly referred to as PRIZM) segmentation scheme.

Members of the Executive Suites segment, for example, tend to place orders at barnesandnoble.com, play golf, and watch Saturday Night Live. This segment consists of upper-middle class singles and couples who typically work white collar jobs. In contrast, although the Bohemian Mix segment falls into the same age range, they are more inclined than the Executive Suites to live in cities and more likely to have children at home. Their media and lifestyle habits also differ—they express an interest in foreign films, are more likely to rent rather than own their home, and are more likely to read GQ.

Organizations must determine which of the segments are of interest to them so that they may focus their efforts on those segments. Once that has been determined, though, it doesn’t matter which particular individuals from the segment provide data to the organization. If other consumers like you are willing to share their data with organizations at no cost, then that’s how much the organization should be willing to spend on data acquisition. However, if each individual in a segment has determined that there is a minimum the organization must offer for someone to be willing to share the data, then it may be in the organization’s interests to invest in acquiring this data.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020