A Tale Of Tin Noses And Online Privacy In Pharma
These injuries were primarily a result of mankind's military technology wildly outpacing the participants' understanding of it. As one surgeon recalled, "The soldiers failed to understand the menace of the machine gun; they seemed to think they could pop their heads up over a trench and move quickly enough to dodge the hail of bullets."
Fast-forward nearly 100 years and it occurs we face a parallel situation wherein participants' expectations are being rapidly outpaced by their understanding of technology, specifically: Internet privacy and online behaviorally targeted advertising. Marketers' ability to track consumers' behavior in or near real time and to serve addressable advertising is only going to increase exponentially in future. What a brave new world!
But while the consequences, thankfully, won't be as immediately catastrophic as those for WWI veterans, the potential for significant personal impact and consumer concern remain. This holds true for all areas of the privacy question but none more so than the marketing areas of the medical and financial categories. These areas are the most personal to consumers and thus create the loudest outcry when perceived boundaries are overstepped.
No consumer wants to think of themselves as being "targeted" (one of the many legacy 20th-century media terms that has an ever more unfortunate military analogy). But even more so, they don't want to be targeted incorrectly. It seems that people, if they do have to see ads, desire relevancy and transparency above all else. A revealing outcome of the recent use of the Online Behavioral Advertising self-compliance driven "Advertising Option Icon" -- which serves to notify the consumer that the ad they are being served in behaviorally targeted to them -- is that of those who click on the icon, only a minority ultimately opt out of being tracked at all while the majority choose instead to up-date their profile to ensure an even greater degree of advertising relevancy.
So perhaps therein lies the key for pharmaceutical marketers: providing users with greater transparency and a simpler choice as it relates to the information and data collected.
Clearly, full implementation of consumer protection needs to be an industry-wide initiative, not just the responsibility of advertisers. Collectively, we need to put greater emphasis on educating the public on privacy issues and about how a curb on data collection would impact their Web experience: viewing ads, content, promotions and price offers that are far less helpful and relevant.
MPG and Havas Digital fully support these industry initiatives and are actively leading the discussion regarding the issue of online privacy and OBA self-regulation compliance; indeed, the agency group is publishing a report, "Navigating Online Consumer Privacy," due out later this month, that sets out our point of view on what marketers need to do in both the short and longer terms. Some actions are simply common sense, and good hygiene. Others are more proactive, transparent initiatives designed to avoid heavy Governmental regulations.
- Monitor and manage all the pixels and tags on your Web site. Organizations need to know what data is currently accessible to third-parties through its Web site.
- Implement OBA compliance. Provide (a) clear notification of when a user is being served an ad that is behaviorally targeted to them and the option to learn more about OBA and (b) a way to control and opt-out of future behaviorally targeted ads.
- Strengthen alignment between marketing, technology, and legal counsel. Privacy issues and related compliance are not strictly the sole responsibility of a company's marketing or media department.
- Knowing and monitoring all policies and processes around consumer data. Understand the policies, processes and practices of vendors who will be collecting data from consumers on the brand's behalf including ad networks, site analytics, retargeting solutions, etc.
Being proactive and transparent in our approach and far reaching in execution as well as having an enhanced ability to control whether ads are delivered according to guidelines is the only path to harmonization between business success and the protection of the consumer now and in the future.
And in so doing, consumers' expectations and understanding will become far more in synch with the pace of technology.