5 things marketers should know about data privacy in 2020

On data privacy day, CMO talks customer data privacy and how it could ultimately make for better marketing

Data Privacy Day is today (January 28) and with legislation being implemented around the world and large platforms like Google phasing out cookies, marketers are scrambling to balance privacy requirements with customer expectations around not only data collection, but the personalised communications they now expect.  

CMO chatted with a number of organisations to see what marketers need to be keeping in mind in terms of privacy legislation this year, and how it can actually make for better marketing in the long run. 

IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy, told CMO 2020 will be a year where marketers will need to carefully review the significant changes in three key areas: Privacy regulation, technology and consumer expectations.  

“These three areas are increasingly interdependent, so marketers should be reviewing their marketing activities and infrastructure looking through these three lenses,” she said. 

And with increased use of customer data in marketing, the pressure is on. According to Wunderman Thompson’s recent Future100 report, brands’ current use of data is generally perceived as underhanded and unethical. 

“With consumers nearing a breaking point amid increasingly frequent and severe data breaches - from the seminal Cambridge Analytica scandal to the massive Equifax credit breach to the September 2019 Ecuador data leak - brands are starting to course-correct, shedding light on their policies and practices...It doesn’t mean constantly trying to grab your consumers’ attention. It means developing a conversation and a trusting relationship,” the report stated.

Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, Emma Chiu, said data is under the microscope. "This is affecting all industries, with the trustworthiness of a brand now tied to the way it uses consumer data and how transparent its terms and conditions are. Rules and regulations are slowly being implemented to protect consumers, and brands are racing to ensure they are using personal data responsibly,” she said.

With data a powerful time, it's paramount data privacy and transparency are front and centre for marketers, LiveRamp Australia and New Zealand country manager, Natalya Pollard, said.

“The marketing industry needs to balance consumers’ desires for a personalised, frictionless experience, with the increasing call to treat their data with dignity and with the same respect afforded to it as a fundamental human right," she said. “It is important marketers understand the future of data is geared toward transparency and openness.”

1. The CCPA

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a data privacy law designed to offer consumers control over the use and sharing of their data.

Yes, it’s a US law, but it still applies to companies doing business in California, who are collecting personal information, have US$25 million or more in annual revenue, or which buy, sell, share or receive personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices for commercial purposes.

Under the law, consumers have the right to request a copy of the personal information collected about them in the prior 12 months and request deletion of the personal information collected.

Integral Ad Science A/NZ managing director, James Diamond, told CMO data privacy will continue to be a growing focus in 2020 with GDPR maturing, the introduction of the CCPA, and both Singapore and Malaysia's Personal Data Protection Acts (PDPA) increasingly being activated in southeast Asia. 

“If a marketer is operating in just one market, it’s easier to place checks on data privacy practices. But if you’re a big corporation with operations in the US, EMEA, APAC, and so on, it becomes much harder to have a single view of the customer because of your ability to attribute information to customer records varies by country, so marketers need to seek very specific advice regarding this,” Diamond said.

For companies in Australia, Diamond recommended seeking counsel from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, or regulatory bodies such as IAB. He also noted overall increased scrutiny on data that is collected for the purposes of advertising. 

“If you have all this data about the individual but no way to activate that data in digital environments you might be better off not having it at all," he argued. "Marketers are starting to substitute that audience data with contextual intelligence. Rather than having to support all that data management and privacy regulations that go along with capturing and leaving personally identifiable information, many marketers will switch to advertising in environments that are contextually relevant and use that as a proxy for the audience.” 

Le Roy added companies that transact or have data on people in different geographic areas worldwide will have to keep across a myriad of different regulation regimes that have already gone live, as well as others that are in the pipeline, such as India’s proposed Personal Data Protection Bill.

Strategic marketer and marketing technologist at marketing services company, Silverbullet, Tim Beveridge, said legislation is implemented differently across different regions, but it all boils down to some pretty simple principles.

“A brand or business must seek explicit and specific consent to use an individual’s data and that permission should be gained in a way that represents a genuine and meaningful choice on behalf of the consumer; that permission is specific to the agreed use and the same data cannot be used for other things outside the agreed scope; and generally speaking, the consumer then has a right to be able to access any data a controller has on them, ask for it to be deleted, or ask for it to be corrected," he explained.

GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation act] is in force and applies to any company selling to any European consumers whether they are within Europe or not. Following this, US states have been creating their own legislation with some variation on these themes.

“Australia has also followed suit with new privacy legislation being proposed, upping fines to $10 million; or three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information; or 10 per cent of a company’s annual domestic turnover.”

Segment CEO and co-founder, Peter Reinhardt, said all eyes will be on the US in 2020 to see if the world’s largest economy and tech centre can agree on a federal privacy bill. 

“US legislators on both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate are working on a myriad of different federal privacy laws that would cement data privacy rights for more than 300 million Americans," he commented. Marketers around the world should pay close attention here, if you do business in the US or store American consumer data, you’ll likely need to comply with this law when it happens.”

As WARC Knowledge managing editor, Lena Roland, added, although the CCPA applies to Californians, it's important to note the legislation is causing a ripple effect across other US states proposing similar privacy laws. Industry bodies such as the ANA, the Internet Advertising Bureau and major brands are lobbying for a federal privacy law which is preferable to a confusing patchwork of privacy laws across 50 different states.

2. Consumer expectations

Thanks to some well publicised data breaches, consumers are more aware of their data than ever before. This means consumers now expect brands to collect and use data in a responsible and thoughtful way.  

Ecosystm principal advisor, Alex Woerndle, said it’s all about limiting what you capture to what you actually need, to use it only for the purposes described in your privacy policy and to retain it only for the period required.  

“While data is valuable to marketers and organisations, it’s equally valuable to hackers, and consumers are becoming acutely aware of the value of their privacy and risks of sharing their information with marketers,” Woerndle said. “Growing awareness by consumers, continued focus of breaches in the media, and an ever-evolving threat landscape mean marketers need to understand their obligations, and minimise their risk.”

Sisense CMO and GM, Harry Glaser, said transparency must be first. “As Facebook teaches us, you can have the most advanced data and security technology in the world, but if your customers don't trust your brand, ultimately you have nothing. Trust is built on transparency. You need to be transparent with your customers on your privacy technologies, your processes, your certifications, and most of all, in the unfortunate event of a breach," he said.

"First of all, it's the right thing to do. Also, customers are more loyal and more sticky if they trust you. Customers will run away from untrusted brands even if there's no actual breach or privacy problem.” 

Xandr senior director of market development JAPAC, Samuel Tan, said as data privacy dominates the headlines, consumers’ perception of trust is essential to the success of any business, particularly in the advertising ecosystem. Therefore, consumers need to be put first in the design of any solution.

"As technology platform and facilitators of digital advertising transactions, we have a responsibility to contribute to a healthier ecosystem built on best practices and trusted, secure user experiences,” he said.

Up next: 3 more key trends marketers must pay heed to in the year of privacy

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