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Brand Me is Bigger Than Opting In

07/04/2016 03:28 pm ET | Updated Jul 04, 2016

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We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
-- Management guru Tom Peters, 1997

Tom Peters was way more prescient than he could have ever imagined back in 1997. Every one of us is "head marketer" or CMO of the Brand called Me...and as we search and post and tweet and text and buy and look and even just walk around the block managing that brand, that most important brand in the world to you, it gets more and more complicated.

Finally some control over my brand?

Read the full WIRED article here:

If you're a Google user--and who isn't these days--you'll soon get a notification suggesting you check in on your security settings. You definitely want to do this, because there's a major change in there. Even more major? That Google has made it opt-in.

The prompt includes an option to let Google use all of the information associated with your account--Search, Chrome, YouTube, the works--to inform the ads you see across the web. Google already does this within its own services, but until now it has used cookies for anything beyond that.

This new setting would change that.

Opting in gives you more granular control over how ads work across devices signed into your Google account. If a search for boat shoes (you know, the grey ones with white laces) haunts you across the web, you'll be able to kill it everywhere, all at once, rather than going device by device.

Google's also introducing My Activity, a page that bundles search history, videos you've watched, and pages you've visited that serve Google ads. Opt in to the new setting, and you'll be able to comb through your online life in far finer detail. That fine-tuning won't all come today, but instead will roll out gradually over time. Google says it will continue to refrain from sharing your data, and you can tweak the type of information it collects from the My Account page.

Control? Sort of...opt in and you get more control of what you might see. Opt in and they get more data no matter what.

And bottom line? Opt-in and they sell your data for more money because it is now more valuable, more targeted...you opted in!

Over the years I have posited that Google should be paying us for access to our data -- splitting the fees if you will. Think of them as UBER, a market matchmaker. We are the Primal Data source, they are managing the request for access to people like us. We allow them to serve us the ad/offer and we split the fee with them. Fair?

Or in the ultimate disruption (hate that word), companies come direct to us and pay us to read, view, sample, experience their brand service or product...the ultimate Opt-In.

For most of us then, Brand Me has little or no value beyond the ephemeral fame I hope, maybe, that I can create or glean myself.

The truth is sad and sometimes depressing -- access to public channels of information distribution be it audio, video, word and picture has created a culture of Brand Me that has far transcended Andy Warhol's famous notion of 15 minutes of fame and Bob Greenberg's update of 15 mgs of the same.

So while Donald Trump and Boris Johnson monetize and empower their own Brand Me (truth: not a political statement, for that buy me a beer), the rest of us are stuck in the muck and mire of the results.

And the proof is clear, according to a recent Financial Times article:

William Arruda expands on why Mr Trump's brand works, for some at least, arguing that the Republican presidential frontrunner is consistent in his deliberate offensiveness to certain groups. While many will squirm at the thought, the businessman and television personality has lessons to impart on how to forge a clear image and message, says Mr. Arruda, a personal brand adviser.

Today, Mr. Arruda is hired by senior executives to evaluate what sets them apart from their peers, craft a personal brand and get that in front of the right audience, be it employers, peers or consumers. For this he charges about $25,000 for a six-month assignment.

Or if you really are aggressive about your Brand Me -- the article continues:

Karen Leland is a former management consultant turned personal branding adviser and author of The Brand Mapping Strategy. Based in Silicon Valley, she charges up to $60,000 to help define clients' brands: revising their LinkedIn profile, helping to write a book, placing them in front of journalists and broadcasters, and creating podcasts. The priority, she says, is defining your brand before hitting social media.

Here are the choices as I see them:

  1. Opt-in to Google's new service and feel some control over Brand Me
  2. Hire a consultant, pay a lot of money and Google will still make money selling your data...maybe more if it works.
  3. Post, tweet and message your way to ephemeral fame
  4. Be happy that your family and friends still like to hear from you
  5. Number 4 with one caveat - I want Google and Facebook and everyone else who makes money from selling my data to share the spoils...
I was amazed to see how far back the notion of Brand Me extended into history...even Socrates opined on it...meaning that once again we are not facing isolated new trauma, just dealing with evolving input.

And, as one of my favorite sources of beautiful cynicism so wisely and modernly said...Listen:

Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken. Oscar Wilde

And there you have it.

Number 5 is looking real good...

What do you think?

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