Would You Share Data With Your Competitors?

would you share data with competitors imageThere’s a saying often credited to Wallis Simpson—duchess of Windsor, late aunt-in-law of Queen Elizabeth and all-around controversial historical figure: “You can never be too rich or too thin.”

Data is the same way—it’s never a bad thing to have a lot of it. In fact, the more information you have about the things that matter to your business, the better you are able to make informed decisions that will impact growth.

For that reason, data co-ops have existed for some time to help companies in the same industry—yes, that means competitors, too—anonymously share their information in one database.

Why Would I Give My Competitors an Edge?

Let’s think about this hypothetically. You are a race director who creates experiential events involving lots of colored powder. Your participants are on the young side and your registration prices are on the low side, but you see an opportunity to grow with your participants and try a timed 5K or 10K.

On the other hand, there’s a more traditional endurance event with participants that are mostly in their 30s and 40s. That event wants to branch out, too, and create a fun run for moms with strollers.

Although both of you are event directors, you’re not exactly pulling from the same pools and your events will attract different people. However, you have lots of data on how people register for experiential events and what types of merchandise they purchase. The traditional event director has data that you might want as well, like when older athletes register and which zip codes produce the most registrants.

“Data Co-Ops Try To Answer The Question: What If You Knew More?”

“Really, you can only do so much with your own data,” Avi Spivack, senior director of product management at MediaMath-owned co-op Adroit Digital. His company recruits advertisers to join about 250 members to anonymously share Web, transactional and other types of data, according to AdExchanger.com, a news site for advertisers.

The key here is that more data presents a clearer picture of the endurance industry and adds more context to everything from pricing strategies to merchandising options than simply relying on your own information. Data from within the same industry can also contribute to a baseline that will help you measure your performance.

Will the Future Bring More Data Co-Ops?

Maybe. A recent survey of marketers by Forrester, a leading research group, found that while about 46 percent said data co-ops could “lead to better customer experiences,” only about 38 percent were currently sharing data with business partners.

“In theory, at least, the benefits of a data co-op are exponential: the more participants, the more data for cross-referencing, analyzing and comparing,” wrote Tyler Loechner in MediaPost, a news site for the media industry.

The big question remains: Would you share your data with a competitor?