Rick Chavez

It used to be that publishers, broadcasters and websites captured audiences, then conducted research to get a rough picture of who was in that audience so they could go sell ads to the most suitable brands.

That still happens, of course, but the brands increasingly have access to even more data than the publishers, thanks to Big Data, the databases in the cloud that sift, winnow and stir the billions of bits that fly their way from all kinds of sources -- including retail purchases, loyalty club data, web browsing info and the information that we all willingly provide every time we fill out a form.

Everybody makes a lot of money on this, so everything is just ducky, right?

Well, actually, not everybody is making money on it. Consumers, the fount from which all blessings flow, are lucky to get a "Hey thanks" for giving up all this actionable data about themselves.

But that's changing. Consumers understand the value of their data and they damned well expect to be paid for providing it, a Microsoft executive cautioned at a recent New York conference.

In fact, 59% of people say they are more likely to buy from a brand that rewards them for their information, according to Microsoft’s latest Digital Trends study, which relied on a global survey of some 8,000 consumers, said Rick Chavez, general manager of the Online Services Division at Microsoft.

In addition, Chavez said consumers want a more "intelligent" relationship with technology. Simply put, they want the stuff to work without calling a lot of attention to itself.

“We want technology that disappears, but that doesn’t disconnect … In short, we want technology that’s on in the right way, and by ‘right’ we mean responsive to our needs in the moment … Not hyper-responsive, not intrusive and not constraining, but in the right way and at the right time,” Chavez said, according to MediaPost.

Age of serendipity

But at the same time, Chavez said consumers want to have a little excitement in their lives, maybe even a delightful surprise, something other than the Blue Screen of Death presumably.

“The Age of Serendipity is about receiving something at the right time and place, and in the right frame of mind,” Chavez added. “Give consumers a pleasant surprise, and they’re more likely to build a long-term relationship with [brands].”

"The challenge for marketers is in capturing that interplay and feeding back information — whether it’s logical, informational or more emotive and inspirational in nature — to the consumer at the right time and place in order to facilitate her decision-making process," Chavez said on his blog

OK, fine, but what happened to paying consumer for their data?

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