If data is the “new gold” of business growth, then transparency offers riches for building consumer trust.  Marketers can significantly increase the trust they earn with customers and prospects simply by being proactive on the data transparency front.  This kind of notice, choice and respectfulness have long been a foundation of DMA Business Ethical Guidelines.

However, like many things in business and life, you can’t expect results if you don’t push the idea front and center.

That’s why we loved this article by Jonathan Salem Baskin in Advertising Age, “Beware a Public Debate about Data Privacy.”   He calls a spade a spade and reminds us that assuming someone else has checked the box for privacy policy and consumer trust practices is a poor excuse for marketers who frankly, must be more proactive.

Marketers who are working to ensure good data use practices “[…] Don’t really know if our scrutiny matters to consumers, because they don’t really know what we’re doing,” Jonathan says in the article.  “Sure, they tolerate it, but that’s mostly out of ignorance, not informed choice. The privacy policies are usually presented in mouse-print legal jargon buried somewhere on a website. Online products and services flash encyclopedic lengths of text at the very moment consumers don’t want to read it, though the “I accept” button is always easy to click. We don’t explain how we’re using their data; we obfuscate what we do say with lots of buzzwords and then point to the fact that confused consumers aren’t opting out as proof they don’t care.”

It’s time for marketers to “lean in” and take a leadership role in data stewardship, a theme widely pronounced by DMA CEO Linda Woolley here on DMA Advance.

Jonathan agrees.   “What should marketers do? Figure out how to do a better, more proactive job of telling consumers what we know about them, what we do with that information and why. What we’re doing now isn’t enough, and we know it,” he writes.



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