The questions marketers need to ask before using data | M&M Global

The questions marketers need to ask before using data

Marketers need to know how data is being used to execute their campaign, writes Chris Le May, newly-appointed senior vice president and managing director, Europe and emerging markets, at DataXu.

Chris Le May

What marketers already call big data has become even bigger data. Marketing to people requires marketers to keep up with the influx of devices consumers use on a day to day basis.

Being successful at personalised marketing in today’s connected world requires innovative technology platforms but also an understanding of what data is available and what data the organisation can and wants to use for marketing purposes.

The job for marketers and technology companies is certainly not becoming easier, especially with uncertainty around legislation in Europe. The decision by the European Court of Justice to reject the Safe Harbour data-transfer agreement that has governed EU data flows across the Atlantic for some fifteen years didn’t come as a surprise though.

I think it only highlights that consumer privacy and data is one area where we have to be absolutely uncompromising. The last thing we need is to damage consumer confidence by taking a cavalier approach to data.

True cross-device marketing

Getting smarter with data is probably one of the biggest steps towards true cross-device marketing.

A problem often cited is the difficulty to track mobile behaviour, as cookies aren’t widely available. There has been a gap between advertiser tracking of desktop behaviour and that of mobile behaviour. And because consumers are spending infinitely more of their time on mobile platforms, the ability to seamlessly measure and attribute effectiveness of cross-channel campaigns has become crucial to marketers.

Even big brands can easily make the wrong move in this rapidly evolving environment

While marketers are keen to capitalise on cross-device consumer insights, as the data depth grows, so does the scrutiny that marketers must apply to their partners to understand where and how the data is being sourced and used.

Of course, marketers who are caught up in consumer privacy incidents are most likely not doing so intentionally but, instead, are simply not abreast of the precise sourcing and application of their data.

It’s not an impossible position for marketers to find themselves in given the pace of development when it comes to the advertising technologies available – even big brands can easily make the wrong move in this rapidly evolving environment.

To avoid this, marketers must feel confident in demanding a level of non-negotiable transparency from their technology partners.

Avoiding a privacy backlash

Marketers should be receiving the details on how, where and for how long the tech platforms they work with track consumers. They should also be asking what type of tracking identifiers are being used to reach them.

Another key question to ask to avoid consumer privacy backlashes would be what do consumers know, and how much control do they have?

One great initiative that puts consumers in control when it comes to managing how their data is used for behavioural advertising is And it’s not only consumers that should be able to choose – the same applies to marketers.

Ultimately, marketers should be able to choose which data they want to use for targeting based on the level of risk and disclosure there is to consumers. Having choice instead of an “all or nothing” policy is key for marketers to act upon any concerns immediately.

Most marketers probably assume that their partners will apply this level of scrutiny for them; but within such a highly competitive industry that is almost entirely self-regulated, some of these nuanced yet wildly important details may slip through the cracks.

Marketers should feel comfortable adopting an “ask and you’ll receive” approach with their tech partners. After all they have everything to lose – the last thing a marketer wants is their brand reputation tarnished because of a lack of understanding or knowledge of how data is being used to execute their campaigns.

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