DMA Chairman JoAnne Monfradi Dunn of Alliant recently presented at a DMIX luncheon in New York City on the importance of data stewardship in a data-driven marketing world. This is a summary of her opening remarks.  JoAnne was later joined in a panel discussion by DMA member Sal Tripi, AVP of Digital Operations & Compliance at Publisher’s Clearinghouse.  

DFdataloveThe DMA recently had some posters made up that say, simply: Data Love. The idea was not to be whimsical or funny, the idea was to represent how vital data is to business, to marketing, to our careers, and to our own digital lifestyles.

In fact, data-driven marketing has become so fundamental to what we do that DMA actually updated its mission statement last year to “Advance and protect responsible data driven marketing.” That’s quite remarkable. It means that the DMA — the largest marketing trade association in the world — is officially committed to preserving self-regulated usage of marketing data.

Our message to marketers and marketing service providers is that we have an increasing degree of responsibility to make sure we are managing data properly. And with good reason.

Data is the fuel that drives marketing. Marketing channels now both consume and generate data. The volume and veracity of data has become a business in itself with “Big Data’ solutions. All that data is generating more than marketing-driven profits. It’s generating some very impressive results in our economy.

According to a recent academic Value of Data study from the Data Driven Marketing Institute, the data-driven marketing created $156 billion for the U.S. economy, and 675,000 jobs in 2012. Significantly, the study also found that 70% of the value — $110 billion in revenue and 478,000 jobs — depends on the ability of firms to exchange data with each other.

That free flow of data levels the playing field and allows both big and small companies to innovate and use the data they have to connect with customers in real time and across channels. Small business and innovation are big winners in the data-driven marketing economy.

All that growth is wonderful, but remember: Access to data is a privilege. We have a big economy to protect, and our own bottom lines to watch out for. So we can’t afford to be careless here.

Marketers are facing ferocious legislative threats – like no other time in recent history. To be frank, we have to protect the data or we are going to lose the freedom to use it. Thankfully, as an industry, we have a long history of successfully self-regulating our own businesses.

That is where Data Stewardship – and you – come in.

Data stewardship is purposeful. It’s ethical. It’s customer-centric. It’s clearly defined collection, notice, choice and use policies. It’s a dynamic, practical set of processes and behaviors and attitudes that create trust between marketers and customers.

Why do we need data stewardship?

  1. It’s good for business. Smart Data Management helps marketers expand their reach, deepen customer relationships and increase sales.
  2. Good stewardship means better data quality. Fewer data silos. Better access. Managing your data assets properly increases business opportunities.
  3. Consumers expect us to be great data-drive marketers! Increasingly, consumers demand relevant, secure data-driven marketing: They don’t want to fill out the same form twice. They want relevant offers in the right channels. If you don’t deliver it, they will vote with their feet and go to your competitor.
  4. Regulatory pressures. Unfortunately recent disclosures about NSA activity is doing its part to undermine the confidence of consumers and policymakers. What we marketers think is cool, they may find creepy.

For more than 40 years the DMA has led a very successful self-regulation program for our industry. We accept tens of thousands of consumer complaints a year, and publish and enforce a set of Ethical Business Guidelines for the industry. Most marketers who run afoul of the Guidelines quickly change their behavior and become compliant. A few don’t, and the list of those is on the DMA website every year.

DMA offers programs for consumers as well, to help them exercise their choice in how data is used for marketing. Two of these programs are, which allows consumers to opt out of mail they receive and which allows consumers to opt out of behavioral advertising.

So here’s the bottom line: The best defense is a good offense. A successful self-regulated business environment begins with effective self-regulation, which, for modern marketers begins with data stewardship. We all have to start by making sure we meet our own obligations to self-regulate and ensure responsible use of all data throughout our own companies.

That’s job one for Data Stewardship.



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