LONDON: With consumers becoming increasingly concerned about how their personal data is being used by advertisers, trust is set to become a competitive battleground for brands, a leading industry figure has argued.

Writing in the 50th anniversary issue of Admap, which looks ahead to the future of brand communications, Neil Dawson, chief strategy officer at SapientNitro Europe, said that brands are built on trust and that they had to tread a careful line between the effective use of data and the need to behave ethically.

In an article titled Build trust in a post-privacy era, Dawson noted the speed at which the debate around privacy and personal data was developing. "Brands must shift the focus," he said, "from 'the invasion of privacy' to the exchange of value and trust, based on transparency, consent and 'trust in intent'."

That means, for example, giving up on the search for quick wins using activities such as blanket retargeting.

"For every transaction, thousands are turned off by being stalked with irrelevant messages, triggered by one-off purchases they have no need to repeat anytime soon," he said.

"Marketers need to factor in negative impacts from such activity as well as simply getting better at anticipating needs."

The problem for marketers is that achieving the better outcomes everyone would like requires yet more and better personal data. Accordingly, Dawson offered five brand principles for success in a post-privacy era.

First, understand that data belongs not to the brand but to the customer which implies a duty of care.

Second, the current 'data-down' approach needs to become explicitly 'people-up' and to move away from metrics such as response rates and revenues and focus more on the benefits to the customer.

Third, brands should personalise the approach to data and privacy issues in the same way they do with products and services.

Fourth, data principles must be explicit within individual brand strategies.

And, finally, an "intentionality filter" needs to be added to the advertising regulator's long-standing requirement for ads to be "legal, decent and honest". People should, Dawson suggested, be made fully aware not just of what data they are providing but also how these data will be used - and why.

Data sourced from Admap