Events have been moving quickly in the marketing data ecosystem. One company that is paying close attention is the information giant Acxiom.
To start with, as Acxiom CEO Chad Engelgau says: “We’re focused on the lack of a central set of data policies in the U.S."
The marketing business is increasingly discomfited as the “5th, 6th and 7th states” enact privacy laws -- some guaranteeing a private right of action and creating risks for companies that go beyond what states can introduce, he explains.
A national law would help, but Engelgau does not expect to see that in the next 18-24 months. And of course, he asserts that it should not contain private right of action.
The issue is complicated by the emergence of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools that can create what Engelgau calls “artificial intelligence hallucinations.”
What are those? Information and sources that proliferate and are simply not true.
The problem is that people believe these AI systems “have a level of intelligence far above us.” But they can generate information that is patently false and can be harmful to people.
“To date, we deal with deductive machine learning, versus inductive like Chatgpt,” Engelgau contends. “Society needs levers and fulcrums to create better scalability” in maintaining compliance and avoiding flat-out lies in content.
The regulatory threat? For one thingk “Italy has stopped ChatGPT in their country, saying that the data assets were never permissioned for this use, never consented to by these individuals.”
Yet ChatGPT could be of great use in email or any short message marketing, expediting the entire creative process. But “the benefits you get in terms of scalability and speed should be measured against content and accuracy,” Engelgau asserts. That means having someone check for falsehoods or embarrassing content.
All this presents challenges for firms like Acxiom that are focused on “how to better market, and not market to people” -- even while third-party cookies are disappearing and vendors of different types abound. He concedes that there has been “lack of clarity and transparency” in the overcrowded environment.
Engelgau is cautious about technology. He was among the CEOs who signed the recent open letter calling on AI labs to pause training systems more powerful than GPT-4). He also is concerned with the privacy changes instituted by what he calls “our beloved Apple” two years ago.
He concludes: “There is so much more data today. Data management requires scalable technology like machine learning and AI to keep up with that pace of data accumulation.”