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A penny for your habits
Guest blog
Guest blog

Ensuring marketers' future access to data means being aware of the value consumers place on information about them, Chris Payne of the World Federation of Advertisers explains.

The future direction of travel for the advertising industry is firmly tied to brands' ability to collect and use data to deliver relevant and responsible advertising.

Data is a critical component in brands' ability to deliver attractive content to the right consumer at the right time and in the right location.

However, consumers globally are becoming increasingly sensitive to the issue of data sharing. According to a recent European study commissioned by Orange, 78% of consumers believe that it is hard to trust companies when it comes to the way they use consumer personal data.

The evidence worryingly suggests consumers are particularly sceptical of marketers. A US survey from GfK found that 64% of those surveyed don't trust how their personal data "is handled" by marketers and advertisers.

Scepticism and misunderstanding bread distrust and create a disincentive to share. Evidence from an Ernst & Young 2014 privacy study found that 49% of customers admit they will be less willing to share personal information with companies online in the next five years.

Some may ask whether consumer sentiment on data matters, as traditionally they have had little ability to control the flows of data. However, this appears to be changing, with legal and commercial developments giving consumers more control over who they share their data with. They won't plug all the holes but they may muddy the waters.

This is especially the case in Europe, where the prospect of the upcoming Data Protection Regulation and the emergence of new commercial and self-regulatory tools will educate consumers, distort data flows, reinforce rights and allow consumers to exercise more choice over who they share data with.

This new environment means that brands may well have to convince consumers to keep the data flowing. A critical element will be to understand the current value that brands provide to consumers and how this weighs against the value that consumers place on privacy.

The value of advertising to consumers (in its broadest sense) is a complex equation containing a number of different elements.

One obvious part of this equation is the value placed on the advertising itself by the consumer.

The WFA's Project Reconnect has been exploring consumer perceptions around what makes strong advertising. Storytelling, relevant engagement with consumers, sharing a conversation and a strong brand purpose that chimes with societal developments, are all key components that can boost value as perceived by the consumer.

Another part of the equation is the relationship between the brand and the consumer. Within this context, building trust will be critical in removing some of the fears that consumers have in relation to the collection, use and sharing of data with third parties.

WFA's new Digital Governance Exchange, a peer-to-peer working group, has been exploring the question of how companies can enhance consumer trust in the data exchange relationship.

One finding was that meaningful transparency can help the industry move from defense and protection to that of ‘sharing with care' with the brands they trust. A practical example is to design data collection practices, such as privacy policies, with consumers front-of-mind; moving away from opaque, impenetrable legal texts.

Other factors can also play a critical part, for example, strengthening the link in consumers' minds between the ads they see and the free services they use. That value must be communicated to consumers in a compelling manner to ensure they are aware of the benefits that advertising brings to their lives and, conversely, the downside of its absence.

In the future getting the broader equation right (the benefits versus the perceived risk of data sharing) between consumers and brands will be an important factor in allowing brands to achieve their data-driven ambitions. Trust will be critical. Without proactivity from brands in these areas, the previously rich abundance of data may just start to dry up.

Subjects: Digital, Data, Marketing

08 September 2014 17:07

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