Publication:

New Zealand Marketing - 2021-09-23

Data:

PRIVACY VS PERSONALISATION:

In Association With One Picture

KEITH MEYRICK of ONE PICTURE explains how marketers can best strike the balance between the need for data and respect for consumer privacy. The consumer world has been through some rapid change in the past 18 months due to Covid-19. Dubbed the ‘Covid effect’, the rapid acceleration of digital channels in so many sectors has placed a new emphasis on consumers’ personal data and where we draw the line between useful and manipulative – the former being data that helps consumers get what they want from a service and find the products they need, and the latter being unwarranted or undue influence by knowing or unknowing persuasion, or worse. As marketers, we’re at the forefront of the debate. Through an operational lens, it’s sometimes questioned whether we should be holding customers’ personal data, and if we should, how we should do so, and how do consumers understand what personal details are recorded. As marketers we strive to obtain as much data on our customers or prospective customers as possible, so where is that line drawn, and should we be leading the debate within our organisations? What’s compliant, and also, what’s optimal? Let’s look at the first part of the challenge, which is data security and the impact of privacy-law changes in New Zealand and other markets. It’s fair to say that the recent alterations to New Zealand’s privacy laws were somewhat influenced by a rapidly changing data-protection landscape globally. Fuelled by the Covid effect, the upswing in online habits has driven a major surge in the level of data crime and threats to cyber security. The media sensationalism (which it’d deem educational) of hacks to entities such as the RBNZ, Waikato DHB and NZX demonstrates the need for data protection to quickly become the number-one priority of local and international businesses and governments. Combine that with international regulators wielding big sticks they’ve been given under laws like GDRP and the state-by-state laws sweeping the US, and we marketers have a headache. Gone are the days when we were wowed by the amazing growth of Airbnb, one of the first start-ups to include a data scientist on their founding team. As a reminder: they were founded in 2008 and grew 43,000 percent in five years. The amount of data and what can be done with it is now staggering and for the most part, consumers don’t know or didn’t know how much data was being collected on them and what could be done with it. In the US, data privacy became a hot topic after the election of Donald Trump in 2017. The reality is that most American consumers had little to no idea about the amount of data held on them and how it could be used. The subsequent Cambridge Analytica scandal and the education of consumers on what was called the ‘weaponisation of data’ and how it influenced not only the 2017 election (5000 data points on every US voter) and arguably also the Brexit vote, has opened consumers’ eyes to what can be done. Again, the media has instilled fear into communities while also trying to drive education, as evidenced by shows like Netflix’s Thegreathack. As they say, “How many of feel like you’ve seen an advertisement that has convinced you someone is listening to your conversations?” All your interactions, credit card swipes, web searches, likes, locations, smart home devices and even vehicles are part of a trillion-dollar data industry worldwide. Two of the biggest suppliers of those data devices, Apple and Google, have recently announced that they’re providing software updates that allow users to stop authorisation of personal data use, under what was billed ‘a major privacy feature’. Their efforts have rattled many businesses and agencies that rely on tracking thousands of items of consumer data. Facebook, which makes almost all of its revenue from advertising, warned investors that their business could be harmed if people started opting out of allowing their data to be tracked. This begs the question: how many people truly know the extent to which their data is being sold or shared? Are Apple and Google allowing for the restriction of data to meet compliance, or are they looking down the road strategically? How do marketers navigate this landscape? As we in New Zealand use more and more personalisation software such as Hubspot, Adobe and one out of the US I personally like, Optin Monster, what are our colleagues doing in North America and Europe? Have we changed from data-hungry marketers to privacy advocates? Where do we play? These questions aren’t just about what marketers think – they affect many functional spheres of a company. What positioning gives companies greater permission to collect data and is still morally right, and how do we want our brands to be perceived in this regard? In speaking with several clients and colleagues in the UK, US and Australia, we can see examples of how brands are repositioning themselves. In fact ,some would argue that it’s the ‘Apple play’. Brands are becoming more transparent and trying to educate customers about how much of their data they have, as well as putting the decision in users’ hands as to how best to use it, not just to be ‘ethically above board’ in their ways and to avoid any exploration of the rights to others’ personal data, but because they believe it’s the new way forward. Here in New Zealand, one corporate told me transparency gave them stronger ground to stand on, in order to back themselves up should something go wrong. They’re ultimately wanting to be seen as an ethical brand that’s leading Kiwis into the digital future. What’s your brand doing while you’re working out what the next frontier is? As a marketer, if you’re curious as to what’s possible with data, have a look at Palantir or Snowflake. Founded by adopted Kiwi Sir Peter Thiel, Palantir is named after a mystical, all-powerful seeing stone in Thelordoftherings. The first investor in Facebook and a founder of Paypal with Elon Musk, Sir Peter is no stranger to the data world; some would argue that he helped found it. Although Palantir purports not to collect data, it brings together specialist software of fragmented data (‘Gotham’ and ‘Foundry’), connects it and helps organisations use it securely. It was initially backed by the CIA, and now has most governments’ security divisions and defence companies as customers worldwide. In March 2021, Palantir partnered with Amazon AWS and measures its data processing capability as petabytes per second. As Bloomberg wrote in 2018, “What does Palantir know about you? Simply, ‘everything’”. For more on how One Picture can help make your marketing more personal, visit onepicture.com

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