I Checked My ‘Secret’ Marketing Profile Online: Here’s What I Found

Photo (cc) by ricky.montalvo

You may have heard about the new website that lets you see what a major marketing data firm has compiled about you – or at least some of the information they’ve gleaned.

Intrigued, I went to AboutTheData.com to see what the folks at Acxiom think they know about me. Did they get it right?

First, more about the company. The New York Times explains:

With about $1.1 billion in revenue in its 2013 fiscal year, Acxiom is a leading player in an industry called data brokerage. The company collects, stores, analyzes and sells consumer data with the aim of helping its clients — including well-known banks, credit card issuers, insurance companies, department stores and carmakers — tailor marketing to their most valuable current customers or identify new customers.

Where does this data come from? Acxiom says:

Marketing data about you is collected two ways: data collected offline and data collected online. Offline marketing data comes from publicly available information such as your name, address, birthdate and census data, information from surveys and questionnaires or product registrations/warranties, and information from other data providers. Online data often comes from cookies placed on your Internet browser that return information about your online visit to the websites of companies you are shopping with.

Acxiom collects a lot of information itself and obtains more from other sources. And now it’s letting people see some of what’s on file. (Some are suggesting the company is trying to head off government regulation by providing more transparency.)

Did they get it right?

Getting access was easy, although you have to provide your date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number so the site can verify your identity. Then you can click to look at various categories of data acquired or extrapolated about you. The site warns that not everything you see will be right. Here’s what I found:

  • Characteristic data. This is information like your sex and marital status. Among other things, the site correctly said I completed graduate school, that I’m single and that I work from home. It did not get my date of birth right, which is fine with me.
  • Home data. This would include information about whether I own or rent and how long I’ve lived at my current address. They have zero information about my home history.
  • Household vehicle data. They got the year and model of my old car right. But they incorrectly think I also own a truck or RV.
  • Household economic data. Here’s where the data diverge wildly from reality. According to it, my income is much, much lower than it really is. It also attributed credit cards to me I don’t have.
  • Household purchase data. This describes in general terms both online and offline purchases at selected retailers. Without knowing which retailers those are, I can’t tell if all of the information about my spending — money spent, how many times I’ve shopped — is correct or not. It did accurately identify some of the types of things I’ve bought. However, I don’t recall buying “golf products.”
  • Household interests data. Wow. This section is really long and identifies just about everything I’m interested in, including what types of causes I’ve donated to. Yes, I’m interested in cooking and gardening, etc., and I have traveled in Canada and in other countries. Only a few of the items were incorrect. For instance, I have no interest in playing golf. (Golf again?) And I have no interest in casino gambling or casino vacations. That probably comes from the Las Vegas trip I took several years ago for a wedding.

How did my experience compare with that of others? The company says 30 percent of the information may be wrong, a CNNMoney writer wrote, adding:

In an informal survey of 10 people at CNNMoney, including myself, everyone reported at least one major inaccuracy in their profile. Most people reported multiple errors, and several people said many of the major personal, economic and other characteristics listed for them were wrong. A few people said their profiles were mostly on target.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson reported similar results. Stacy, whose first name is shared by both women and men, is a male — but that would be news to Acxiom. It also had his profession wrong, as well as his income and how long he’s owned his house. They didn’t know he was married and, like me, thought he owned a truck or RV.

Acxiom does give you the ability to edit your information in each category, but I’m not inclined to help them tailor even more ads specifically to me.

You can also opt out of letting them collect info about you. But that seems like a waste of time too. The website says:

Opting out of Acxiom’s online and/or offline marketing data will not prevent you from receiving marketing materials. Instead of receiving ads that are relevant to your interests, you will see more generic ads with no information to tailor content. For example, instead of getting a great offer on a hotel package in your favorite vacation spot, you might see an ad for the latest, greatest weight loss solution.

Have you checked on your data? Was it accurate, and did you opt out? And does all of this data collection creep you out? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report
8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report

Federal law lets these entities peek at your credit — regardless of whether you’re borrowing money.

Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products
Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products

Here’s how to organize every corner of your home using only items from a dollar store.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

8 Things I Always Buy at Costco
8 Things I Always Buy at Costco

From bacon to birthday cakes, here are my favorite deals at the popular warehouse store.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car
This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car

Looking for a good deal on a set of wheels? This should be your first stop.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.