Data, Trust -- And Flying Pigs

I am speaking in Amsterdam next week at the Grote Marketing Congres, an annual marketing conference. This year’s theme is “Trust in advertising is gone: do you believe in it?” (this is my translation from the Dutch title). The topic I was briefed on is data and advertising, and I suggested “Trust and Data Go Hand in Hand” as a potentially controversial title for my keynote.

Obviously, a little controversy goes a long way to attract an audience. But I do believe that, in essence, data and trust should -- and could  -- go together. It is the choices we have made as an industry that have severely damaged the relationship between the two.

First of all, what have we offered consumers that would increase instead of diminish their trust in our use of data? Let the record show that we have done a very poor job:

  • In the EU alone, 145 million consumer records were leaked in just the month of June. And these are only the reported cases. As we have learned in the last few weeks, even Google has not been that forthcoming with leaks when they happened (Google+, anyone?).
  • When consumers are giving us access to their data, we have been not only very poor custodians but equally poor marketers. We have segmented badly, used irrelevant or downright insulting ad-serving techniques, and created a frequency onslaught that has driven 25%+ of the population to ad blockers — and Apple to include these techniques in its browsers.
  • On top of that, the tech industry veers from one scandal to the next. If it isn’t a data leak, it is a #Metoo disaster or fake news.



We have not given consumers any reason to believe we have their best interests in mind. On top of these issues, which marketers also often cite as reasons to have little trust in the “data industrial complex” (as Apple CEO Tim Cook calls it), there are poor measurement and performance/ROI insights, fraud and complexities to orchestrate it all.

So who can steer us out of this self-inflicted mess? Initially I would have said “the supply side.” They, after all, have the most to lose in a meltdown. Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter are already in the crosshairs of investors and politicians alike -- and either group has significant potential to do damage.

But today, I believe the true answer lies with those holding the purse strings. The World Federation of Advertisers, the Association of National Advertisers -- and its counterpart ISBA in the U.K. -- have already started to push for change.

The other side of the purse strings are agencies. This is in my mind presents a golden opportunity to win back advertiser trust, and actually move the industry in a better, more sustainable direction.

Advertisers have an important goal: ROI. Suppliers/content distributors have an important goal: sustainable revenue. I know I am simplifying here dramatically, but the role of the agency here should be that of impartial bridge-builder.

In the olden days of media, the agency had no interest in which medium was selected for the plan. Inclusion was based on independently developed ratings or reach models, and that led automatically to winners and losers. It wasn’t until the agencies took a position in certain media that the wheels of their independent position started to come off.

So there it is. I believe that data and trust can be helped enormously when agencies retake their independent position as trusted and impartial advisers. And when pigs fly…

2 comments about "Data, Trust -- And Flying Pigs".
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  1. Dan Kidd from Datawallet, November 2, 2018 at 2:56 p.m.


    Data and trust can and do go together when we get the data ownership and control correct. Consumers should both own and control the data they create and is used to communicate more effectively with them. The current ecosytem of data does not allow this logical flow and has in fact fueled the distrust of consumers. 

    Datawallet is changing this dynamic and breaking down the walls that have created this situation. The end point is engaged consumers that own and directly permission the use of their data for specific purposes for compensation. They gain control and build a trusted relationship with brands of their choosing.  The world of data is changing and the consumer centric revolution has begun. 

    Dan Kidd

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 2, 2018 at 3:53 p.m.

    I am afraid advertisers, i.e., agencies do not care about trust with data. Agencies make money on creative and placement. The large to largest advertisers have other means for consumers to know who they are and consumers would still be buying products/services if they didn't use anti social media just like they did before. I do believe we give anti social media too much credit they do not deserve. Anti social media will not do anything until the fines are so large that they are a hair's breath away from self destruction. Of course, no one likes what I just said, MP will delete this and so many billions of dollars are going to be lost until we all wake up.

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