The year began with Obama setting out plans for a Student Data Privacy Act, a move that would see the government restricting the type of data ad tech companies can use to inform ad campaigns targeted toward young people. This is unsurprising if we look at what we saw in 2014, with Google and Facebook facing increased scrutiny from Europe over how it stores and uses consumer data. If we look forward into this year, the European class action against Facebook is set for the 9th April, where we will see the social networking giant appearing in court to defend the ways in which it generates ad revenues.
This heightening of consumer backlash against the way data is used is bound to have an effect on the advertising industry. BMW, for example, recently revealed at the Detroit Motor Show that it will not be allowing advertisers to use its connected car data. This is something that will block a significant opportunity for advertisers to target consumers with relevant information, and for consumers to receive ads tailored to their tastes. As consumers become increasingly confused and suspicious about how their data is used by brands this is something we will likely see more of.
It is clear that as an industry we need to work harder at treading a careful line between driving ROI and ensuring consumers are comfortable and well informed. The problem largely occurs when consumers feel that the value exchange that takes place between targeted advertising and free online content isn’t fair, and when the process and parameters of data usage aren’t clearly communicated. This is something that needs addressing this year, as the scale of the opportunity lost is set to increase dramatically. At The World Economic Forum in Davos, Google’s Eric Schmidt professed that the Internet is set to disappear and that “there will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time.”
What this means for the industry is that a whole host of new data to inform advertising, but for consumers it also means losing sight of being online and offline, and so losing a sense of control over how data is used in that environment. So what can marketers be doing to combat this?
Clearly inform consumers
As a generation of tech-savvy consumers becomes increasingly powerful, the industry is going to have to become increasingly transparent. Dialogue boxes that clearly inform visitors and provide full transparency over data collection by all 3rd, 4th and even 5th party tags will be essential to gaining the trust of consumers.
Own your data
Brands often are not aware that third parties are tagging their sites, so they need to ensure they have full control and visibility over third-party tags on their site, as well as continually monitoring them to identify unusual behavior and non-compliance. Brands can further protect themselves by using a DMP or analytics solution that doesn’t require them to sell data onto third parties to activate it.
Use tech that is privacy conscious by default
As marketers become increasingly concerned about the EU Privacy Directive they must employ technology that supports all ePrivacy regulations, including DNT and UK Cookie Law, to stay on the right side of the law. Legally we’re still catching up with online advertising and there’s likely to be change, so technology that automatically honours consumer preference will protect brands as this is ironed out.