Erik Brydges, Vice President of Technology and Innovations, reflects on the value of opt-in data to those who own it in an age where users are becoming more aware of how much they’re sharing after he attended the RampUp conference in San Francisco.

There’s one ad tech conference I really look forward to attending every year: LiveRamp’s RampUp, which is held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California. This industry event brings together agency buyers, vendor partners, and technology companies under one roof to share knowledge across their different verticals and disciplines.

There’s a lot to be learned from the non-political advertising technology space that can be deployed in the political arena. In some ways political ad tech is leagues ahead of the larger brand world, especially when it comes to squeezing the most value out of our abundance of first party voter registration data (as our Partner and CTO, Mark Jablonowski, detailed on a panel at last year’s RampUp). But the brand world can often be slightly ahead when it comes to identifying interesting arteries of valuable data that might exist outside of their own customer relationship manager (CRM) or data management platform (DMP).

One fireside chat that was of particular interest was a session entitled, “The Transformation of Data Monetization and the Next Frontier for Brands and CDAO as Data Company CEO”, between Luke McGuinness, LiveRamp’s Head of Data Partnerships, and A. Charles Thomas, General Motors’ Chief Data and Analytics Officer (CDAO). In this chat, Thomas detailed the change in value that data and analytics can bring to a company now versus how it was used just a few years ago. Companies have moved from leveraging data and analytics to achieve that 1% lift on their own advertising campaigns to understanding and packaging up their proprietary data to sell to other businesses to help support and grow those companies. Companies, like GM, have pivoted their data and analytics operations so much that they can spin entire new data-focused divisions out of their parent companies.

Thomas provided an example from General Motors’ own connected vehicle fleet, stating that it was the largest connected vehicle fleet on the road and, because of that, they had access to a wealth of data from the cars. GM can track everything from what radio station you are listening to, to where you are driving, to even how hard and often you brake. This data can help augment other companies’ data. For example: It can help insurance companies calculate more accurate rates and, maybe one day, even help banks to understand what mortgage rate you should be offered based on your car payment history and driving habits.

This passive and (presumably) consensual collection of data from these connected vehicles can carry some real value outside of just selling ads. Outside of the examples above, city planners could leverage the car’s location data to better understand traffic patterns and frequently traveled routes (something we have also seen leveraged in the mobile location space), and health care providers could leverage that driving data to offer preventative care.

However, access to this data is predicated on the user, or in this case the driver, granting GM access to collect that data. After the exposés of Cambridge Analytica and the subsequent realization from seemingly much of the American public over how much data they are really enabling tech companies like Facebook to collect and then monetize, it will be very interesting to see if GM’s B2B data business based on data points collected from people’s cars will be one step too far. Or, if it isn’t, what features behind that consent wall are encouraging drivers to click “Accept” during the car setup process?

One attendee phrased the dilemma perfectly during the QA session: “Would you buy a car if you knew it was tracking your driving habits and that could raise your mortgage rates?” Food for thought, indeed.