Finding the balance between privacy and personalisation

A panel of industry leaders discussed the challenges of achieving meaningful personalisation while meeting the coming regulatory and technical privacy restrictions

Research shows the bulk of consumers are willing to exchange their data in return for a personalised offer, but it has to respect their data and privacy at the same time.

Speaking at a Verizon Media panel this week, Verizon Media A/NZ head of data, Dan Richardson, said
impending restrictions with third-party cookies and device IDs along with privacy regulations are creating challenging headwinds for marketers. Richardson was one of several industry leaders from across the advertising ecosystem participating in the online event this week focused on digital advertising and identity management.

“Targeting, measurement and optimisation have weighed down websites, impacting usability and compromising consumer privacy and transparency,” Richardson said. At the same time, there is a desire from consumers for personalisation based on knowing them, which inevitably requires collecting, storing and analysing some of their personal details.

The changing habits of people during the past 12 months, moving in and out of lockdowns that affected their work, children’s schooling and pastimes, shows it’s imperative to understand changing needs and behaviours. Which is why Richardson believes coming to terms with the tightening privacy landscape is an opportunity, not just a challenge.

“It’s a unique moment for brands to connect with customers in a new way,” he said. As examples, he pointed out immersive technologies like augmented reality (AR) enabling customisation and more personalised products, which are key to tapping more consumer dollars. “Alternative identifiers such as encrypted email IDs or click ID are options,” he said.

Panellists agreed the technological and regulatory challenges facing marketers and their teams can’t be underestimated. For MediaCom A/NZ CEO, Willie Pang, the “holy trinity of readiness is having people with the right technical expertise, along with the right technology and processes in adapting to the changing requirements".

IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy, explained marketers and other in the industry will need to work together to some extent and to let go of old processes.

“There’s a lot of rebuilding and a lot of conversations around governance, so it’s that fear and insurance factor,” said Le Roy. And because of this, stories about the value of data and benefits resulting from the way data can be used aren’t at the forefront right how.

Maintaining data accuracy, which is particularly tricky in B2B marketing, is one of the biggest challenges, IBM A/NZ CMO, Jodie Sangster, said. From a consumer’s perspective, she highlighted three main areas of concern. “Is my data safe? Is my data being shared? Who is my data being shared with? And added to that, is it being used to my benefit?” she said.

However, Sangster challenged the industry to find ways to inform consumers and provide choice in a simple, straightforward way. “We see it as a legal requirement but we’re not humanising it. It’s not enough just to meet the legal requirements,” Sangster said.

Ways to treat data meaningfully

Another key piece is of advice is that data shouldn’t be stretched or applied too far from its original purpose or intent. Along with clear and transparent declarations about data is collected and how it is used, there needs to be a close connected between intend and use, explained Le Roy.

“We need to work on extrapolation, on models and making sure we have good data quality, and that it’s making sense and we’re not trying to stretch the data beyond the purpose and capability,” she said.

Recognising true personalisation at scale isn’t achievable is another must, said Sangster. “You can't be personalised to absolutely everybody, because of the volume we’re dealing with,” she said.

Segmenting clients into target areas and focusing the ones of interest is the process taken by Sangster for B2B client marketing. “Focus, keep it simple and build on that,” she said.

For IAB, the focus is two-fold: Privacy and regulatory side; and the technological. “They’re increasingly coming together, and while we can look to changes overseas such as GDPR for lessons, there’s not yet a perfect scenario from a consumer’s point of view,” said Le Roy.

“Allowing consent without making horrible experiences is really very tricky."

MediaCom is focused on being the best data integrators and taking a flexible approach in supporting clients with their tech stack and their strategy. “Integrating and embedding a data analytics person inside every engagement is an important first step in achieving the hold trinity of expertise, technology and processes,” said Pang.

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