Giving control back to teens

18th Jul 2019
“Behind the Data” is a transparency tool for the 3rd party data service Acclaim. The goal is to provide people with visibility and control of their perceived preferences and ultimately the types of ads they see.
Product Context

ACCLAIM is a third party data provider that enables companies to use their customer data in online advertising. A new function on their site enables people to view and take control over the different kinds of data that Acclaim has about them.

In order to provide the service, Acclaim is powered by some of the following data: Age, Ethnicity, Gender, Social demographic, Political interests.

Problem & Opportunity

Teens are highly sophisticated users that have mastered the art of managing several accounts online and adapting the way they present themselves, communicate with others and what they share and access depending on the context of the app or the channels they stream content on. However, handling such online complexity can become overwhelming.

How might we... young people understand how their online behaviour effects the suggested content they see?

Design Features
Centralised data view for personalised advertising

Standard data controls can feel very complex and boring for teens, often displaying a long list of data using only text, with ambiguous actions. Acclaim wants to provide a centralised overview of data used for advertising, allowing teens to easily understand at a glance their data profile.

Playing with sizes, colors, grids and emojis, this centralised view has a fun and interactive collage effect that is clear and informative, without being intimidating. The diversity, complexity and nuance of someone’s interests is also recognisable at a glance. This could be further developed into a type of avatar for people’s digital selves.

TTC Acclaim 2
Design Features
Intuitive Controls to understand interests

A simple interaction allows people to edit their data profile, reducing or increasing the importance of a category or even deleting it entirely.

This feature is based on the understanding that interests are very rarely a matter of simply turning on or off; rather, interests are more nuanced and they can fluctuate in size and over time. This is especially true for younger people, whose interests arguably are more flexible in nature.

The intuitive view gives people a real sense of control, allowing them to reduce or increase a category based on their interests. By doing this they can choose to be anonymous or receive adverts that are more personalised and relevant to their changing needs..

Design Features
Granular controls over the effect

Very few people, let alone teens, consider the impact of their data profile on what they see online. This tool attempts to go some way to educate people about the impact of the data they share on their online experience by listing the brands that they can expect to see as they browse based on the changes they have made on their profile.

Aiming to take away the sometimes unwelcome surprise of being followed by ads across the internet, this feature keeps people informed and allows them to take action by changing their preferences.

Next steps

How might we build on Acclaim’s ideas to:

Educate teens further about the implication of the actions online? Incorporate a timed reminder for assessing data profiles? Make this tool easily accessible without it being a separate destination? Explore further what it takes to delete data about yourself? Develop further the visualisation of your online self to help give further meaning to teens?