CMO interview: Why GDPR is the blueprint marketers need to be customer-led

Tealium's global chief marketing officer talks through the ramifications of the General Data Protection Regulation, rise in first-party data maturity, and CDP versus DMP

Adam Corey
Adam Corey


Marketers should take the impending GDPR European regulation as a blueprint for how they need to handle and provide access to consumer data if they’re to continue building trust with their customers.

That’s the view of the global marketing chief of data management technology provider Tealium, Adam Corey, who caught up with CMO during a recent visit to Sydney to discuss the global fallout of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in Europe from May 2018. He also provided insight into the growing utilisation of first-party data for customer engagement, and how customer data platforms (CDPs) and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) fit into the picture.

For Corey, the pervasiveness of data collection today makes it vital brands better understand how they’re managing and protecting consumer data. Importantly, this includes providing access back to customers.

Yet he claimed too many marketers still aren’t thinking through their responsibility around data’s collection, management and use.

“We’re getting close to a tipping point where customers will shy away or disconnect from companies they don’t feel they can trust,” Corey said. “We will see a reward from customers to companies that are very clear on what they’re doing. That’s not just about the first point of contact and a privacy policy, but throughout the journey so customers understand what’s happening.

“Not doing something in the customer’s best interest is dangerous now. Because it takes just one journalist, blog or social media post to bring light to the fact that it might not be in the customer’s best interest. That has major consequences for brands.”

With GDPR so focused on rights of the individual, Corey suggested the laws present the “right blueprint” for managing customer data, regardless of whether a company will be directly impacted by them or not.

“Consumers should have control of their data, should understand what’s happening and should get value out of the data being collected about them. If we don’t do those things, there’s going to be some sort of challenge,” he said. “GDPR provides a focus we should all have to go back and look at what we do as part of our customer experience and think about where privacy by design should fit into that.

“Look at the elements within it – being able to access information about me, being able to amend or delete that info, or just providing consent before you do anything. They’re basic human things that should be a part of everything we do as it relates to new technology.”

Tackling data usage

It’s no mean task, however. With organisations using as many as 40 different technologies to deliver their customer experiences across every online and offline touchpoint, Corey agreed convoluted processes need to be thought through, and legal teams need to be consulted. He highlighted the human element of how data is managed as a common stumbling block.

“What data do we have? Who has access to it? If I get a notice from a consumer to destroy their data, can I do that? Even if you’re not subject to GDPR directly, go back through and think: If I did have these regulations on me, could I adhere to it? Do I even understand where this data goes?” he asked.

Adam Corey
Adam Corey


Corey also tied data utilisation to being truly customer-led, and the importance of providing ongoing value.

“Companies have been using the phrase ‘customer centricity’ for many years but in ways that are very self-serving to the brand and business. Rarely has it been focused on would the consumer be OK with this, or if they’d like this and does it provide value back to them,” he claimed.

Marketers specifically have a responsibility to think more about their digital marketing practices, Corey continued. As an example, he pointed to marketers using pixels on an ad to collect and share information with retargeting providers.

“Then I’m off to the next campaign or program but didn’t go back and remove that old retargeter’s pixel,” he said. “If you think about what that is, it’s not just something on the to-do list or something I need to send to the developer: I’m still sending data about a customer to another company I no longer have an interest in working with anymore because I’m too busy.

“If you think about it that way, it’s an insane world we live in. Because we’re all tasked with so much and we don’t always think about how it looks if we’re on the consumer side, knowing what we know. That’s the world we’re just starting to get into.”

According to Corey, it’s not just about delighting the customer, or building a cool campaign, improving conversion rates or customer lifetime value.

“Those are all nice, but would the customer still be happy if they knew all the ins and outs of how it’s built and data is collected? I think we need to be asking that question,” he said.

Harnessing first-party data

Data utilisation has been a consistent theme across Corey’s career. From his early days working on the ABC News US digital team, to Web, mobile and social analytics companies and now Tealium, he’s been focused on how data can be used in storytelling and building customer relationships.

Tealium, a martech vendor established in 2011, has its roots in tag management, one of the first automated technologies for tracking digital interactions. Today, the company has aligned itself to utilisation first-party data management, and in particular, the growing customer data platform (CDP) part of the martech lumascape.

“We’re not doing anything with that data other than making it actionable, protected, and accessible for our customer’s organisation,” Corey said, adding the vendor takes an open platform approach to development.

It’s an area arguably with a long way to go. “We’re at a moment right now where marketers are saying we haven’t taken as much advantage of our first-party data in a holistic way, because it’s been hard and we’ve had other things in front of us,” Corey claimed. “Perhaps we’ve also been beholden to metrics that don’t require us to do the back-end work to bring all of this together.”

In addition, confusion around how to go about managing first-party data successfully, and the technology available to achieve this, has stifled maturity. A big area of confusion, for example, is CDP versus DMP.

Generally speaking, a CDP focuses on the relationship a brand is establishing with its users, guests, visitors and customers, or first-party data. In contrast, a DMP is focused on the advertising interaction and third-party data utilisation. High-profile DMP players include Salesforce, which entered this space via its acquisition of Krux in 2016.

“A DMP is valuable as a marketer because I don’t know every customer we want to reach yet or we haven’t started that conversation with them yet, so that allows us to start to address them with data collected through other means,” Corey explained.  

For Corey, this means the two technologies should – for now – co-exist. “We’ve certainly seen some DMPs adding in first-party functionality and there’s certainly interest in that. Then you see CDPs bringing in other third-party data sources, or other data to help fill in that customer journey,” he said.

Regardless, what every organisation has to have is a data foundation based on their own data, Corey advised.

“Think about the competition that exists for brands out there today: You have competition from startups, or Amazon behemoths that are building a better customer experience, or have faster shipping if you’re a retailer, or better technology based on what the digital experience should be. What they don’t have is your relationship with your customers. That happens through data,” he explained.  

“It’s incumbent upon today’s marketers and CX leaders to focus on how do I understand what’s happening across every channel… and make sure every single customer touchpoint is connected.”

As a CMO, Corey claimed many marketers have been content to build great but separate experiences.

“These have performed well for campaigns, or done great things as part of the customer journey, or meant we could move faster or experiment. But we now understand the ability to connect those touchpoints is hugely impactful when it comes to what the CX and impact could be for the business,” he said.  

Of course, if the consumer doesn’t perceive value, they’re not going to go out of their way to authenticate or connect to let brands know who they are, Corey said. “Hence why we’ll see an increased focus on making sure companies are more transparent and thoughtful about the data they do collect,” he said.  

“As a brand, I don’t want to be collecting data without taking action on it. I also don’t want to end up in a place where end users are concerned about what I’m doing. As a consumer, I’m OK with a brand I trust to collect all sorts of information about me to create a better experience for me… I do want to make sure the brand I build a relationship with knows me and anticipates me and knows my journey.

“I think we have a huge amount of runway in that area alone.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

 

 

 

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