Brands need to lead the way in the fair and ethical use of data

Data privacy and ethics and data governance have been important topics to consumers and marketers for decades. In recent years, they have garnered a great deal of attention from politicians, legislatures and the media. Sure, there have been a few bad actors along the way. They have been the exceptions. So why is this such a big topic right now? The simple answer is: because our world has become more digitally connected.

The reality is that in addition to the political and media attention placed on data privacy, the pace of technological advancement and digital connectivity has driven consumer concern around their ability to maintain their privacy, both in terms of the amount of data collected by organizations and the perceived ability of organizations to reach into their lives through their smart devices.

Between the changing privacy landscape as it pertains to both customer sentiment and new legislation, and the final step in the deprecation of third-party cookies, marketers are heading into uncharted territory. It’s time for brands to lead the charge in ensuring they do what’s right for the customer and what is right in terms of the laws.

The good news is that marketers are constantly evolving their strategies to connect with people in meaningful and contextually relevant ways. We’ve learned that relevance and personalization matter. As marketers we’ve been working tirelessly to reduce irrelevant and unwanted ads and messaging that annoy people and lead to wasted marketing spend. We’ve been focused on leveraging targeted messages with positive, personalized customer experiences that delight the customer and drive business impact. And we’ve done the right things to keep our customers’ data safe.

The challenge is that the volume, variety, and velocity of data we generate in our marketing ecosystems is growing substantially every year. Add to that the multitude of smart devices, and you have a perfect storm. In fact, Gartner predicts we will all have up to 500 smart devices in our homes in 2022. Imagine all the data that will be generated. And behind every bit of data is a real person who deserves respect. Keeping track of all that data and ensuring you are doing everything you should protect the customer’s privacy is a daunting task. For this reason, data and data privacy go hand in hand. They belong together.

Few would argue that data is not a critical piece of infrastructure in today’s digital economy. While we often think of the internet as the road, data is most definitely the fuel, and that means everyone needs to have access to participate. Data must be protected not just from abuse but from potential problems like the concentration of ownership, or access in the hands of a few.

The pandemic has altered the way we approach the world. We’ve come to appreciate the convenience of our digital lives, but we’re also committed to safeguarding our sensitive information. Recent regulations on a national and global stage reflect these concerns. Yet, we as marketers are tasked to provide relevant, personal CX, and that’s not going away.

We are in the midst of a great customer experience reset – a behavioral shift that compels brands to develop marketing strategies that not only offer personal relevance, but are designed to build trust. To put a finer point on the challenge, a new subset of trust must now be established: Data Trust. That’s where privacy by design comes into play. A strong marketing data foundation should be centered around data privacy and built on the principles of privacy by design.

When brands earn data trust, people don’t just accept the idea their personal information is being collected – they embrace it. They explicitly want trusted brands to know more about them because they’re confident they will benefit from relevant, personalized, valuable experiences they get in return. In addition, brands build a sustainable data foundation and business model that will future proof their data and enable meaningful interactions with customers for years to come. Everyone wins.

To learn more about Acxiom’s 6 Convictions of Data Trust, download our latest ebook The Great Customer Experience Reset: Part 3 Why earning data trust should top your to-do list.

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