The following article originally appeared as the foreword to the newly-released report Data Privacy: What the Consumer Really Thinks, currently available for download.
Data-driven marketing has powered a flourishing digital economy, helping businesses build connections with their customers and powering startups and small businesses to reshape the global economy. It also delivers tangible everyday benefits, such as the increased relevancy of advertising and increased value and savings for customers. Advertising on social media and digital platforms also funds the innovative content and services that consumers have come to rely upon on a daily basis.
The survey results contained in this report are clear. Consumers see the value in the data-driven economy, and they are willing to share their information in order to receive services and discounts. However, marketers need to nurture customer trust through responsible marketing, and we as an industry need to better inform consumers of the value received through the exchange of data.
Because we also see that today’s customer demands value in exchange for their data, and marketers are competing with each other for personalization that results in better customer experiences. Today’s customer base is segmented across a range of digital channels, and an individual customer uses an increasing number of connected devices. This creates a clear challenge for marketers seeking more convenience for customers, identity for their interest-based advertising and attribution for their sales.
On the horizon we see advances and sophistication coming with the advent of augmented intelligence, which will allow marketers to further connect with customers closer to the one-to-one relationship that customers are expecting and demanding. Over 70% of marketers say their investments are driven by customer expectations of more personalized and relevant brand interactions. The possibilities are endless and the rate of innovation is increasing. However, this innovation must be protected.
Looming requirements from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and increased scrutiny from state and federal regulators risk setting our industry back by limiting how marketers may utilize data to improve the customer experience. This is a shame, as responsible marketers are interested in acting ethically and nurturing customer trust. All the more reason for the industry to come together and ensure an environment that drives value to customers while we ferret out bad actors. With the best interests of customers in mind, and with a steady eye toward security and responsibility, industry-self regulation demonstrates that our industry takes ethics and responsibility seriously.
All DMA members want lasting customer relationships that are based on truth, results and trust, and they know that handling data responsibly while respecting privacy is critical. If we can make this point clear to consumers – our past and future customers – then our data-driven future will be bright.
Tom Benton is CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA).