As Uncle Ben says in Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

In her Integrated Marketing Week (IMW) session “Data-Driven Innovation: The Future of Integrated Marketing,” Stephanie Miller, SVP of Communications & Member Engagement at DMA, discussed the economic power of the data-driven marketing economy (DDME) and marketers’ increased responsibility to protect consumer information.

“Data is the raw material of effective marketing,” said Miller.

Citing academic research commissioned by the Data-Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI) and undertaken by Professors John Deighton of Harvard Business School and Peter Johnson of Columbia University, Miller reported  that data contributes $156 billion to the US economy. Miller also described the DDME as a “uniquely American creation” and called innovation and small businesses “the biggest winners” in the industry.

“70% of the value of the DDME is due to data moving back and forth between firms,” said Miller.

Although there are clear economic advantages to the DDME, it can be threatened by irresponsible data usage and the negative perception that the marketing industry is “spying” on consumers. To combat these problems, Miller emphasized the need for “data stewardship”—building customer trust through data governance and responsible use by marketers. It’s what businesses need to maintain credibility, and it’s what consumers expect.

“It’s like a covenant. Consumers provide data, and marketers promise to keep it safe and use it responsibly,” said Miller.

Offering suggestions for responsible self-governance, Miller said, “Know what data types you have. Know who has access to what data. Know your legal obligations for each data type.”

With the prominence of digital marketing today, the DDME is poised for further growth. As data gathering and storage continue to be refined, data stewardship must remain at the forefront of the DDME as a bridge of trust between marketers and consumers.

“An innovative business environment must begin with effective self-regulation,” said Miller.  “Luckily, DMA has been helping the industry self-regulate to high Ethical Business standards for more than four decades.”