That’s a lot of data and a lot of money, so how do you put a price tag on customer information? Well, there are various ways to value an intangible via any number of financial methods. One method would be to estimate the cost associated with acquiring or replacing the information, aka “if I lost this data, how much would it cost to get it back.”

You can also use an “economic value” model which estimates how the intangible itself contributes to the revenue of the organization. For instance, Kroger supermarkets sift through 55 million loyalty-card members buying patterns, then share that information with its vendors (for a fee) so the vendor can stock Kroger’s shelves with products relevant to their customers. It’s estimated that Kroger brings in $100 million annually for the sale of this information—and its payment for helping their vendors better their customers Kroger shopping experience. This is a very crafty and profitable use of an intangible.

Then there is the market value of the data. There are many companies that specialize in selling intangible assets, via auction or other methods. Finding what a seller is willing to pay is a great way to accurately value the intangible, but the only caveat is (like any asset) the more specialized your intangible is, the smaller the market becomes. Provided you can find data on prior sales of similar intangibles, this data can be used as market comparable (“comps”) for use inestimating a value for your subject intangible.