The RESET conference had well and truly kicked off at Randwick Racecourse yesterday morning by the time lawyer Jamie Barnard took to the stage.
“[You’re probably thinking] why the bloody hell have they invited a bloody pommy lawyer? We work in marketing,” he began.
But Barnard isn’t your average lawyer.
Growing up with a love of advertising, he’s now the general counsel for brand giant Unilever, providing legal and commercial support to their global marketing, media and e-commerce functions. Before Unilever, he was a supreme court solicitor.
And according to Barnard, “today is the old way”.
Technology is moving faster than ever – with marketing companies sometimes struggling to keep up. Barnard’s presentation was a little on artificial intelligence and a lot on the increasing need for digital data in marketing – particularly moving forward.
“Anyone who thinks they’re doing digital, data and tech today – you’re completely deluded. And I’m going to show you why,” Barnard said.
Marketing is increasingly digital in modern times – and digital equals data. While Barnard acknowledged there’s a lot more to marketing than data, he said people need to increasingly focus more on the data to even attempt at keeping up in the digital age.
The biggest thing holding data back from marketers is people not wanting to share it, according to Barnard, but he noted it wasn’t always like that.
He illustrated this by flashing back to his 2007 Facebook profile picture – a nude photo of his behind.
“In those days, we felt a lot less vulnerable,” Barnard said.
But fast-forward 10 years and the world is very different – and has more sophisticated privacy settings.
“People are feeling more vulnerable now than they were 10 years ago. And part of that is because we don’t really have control over our data. Control is a delusion,” Barnard said.
He used lying to his doctor about how many units of alcohol he drank a week as an example, citing that Facebook probably had a better idea: from his check-ins, photos and friends. And Facebook is just one of many apps that collect data without users being able to control it.
“It’s less about privacy and much more about control and getting cool shit,” Barnard continued.
“If you want an Apple phone, you go into the store and you’re given two choices. Accept their terms and conditions and take the phone, or reject them and leave empty-handed.”
Despite many terms and conditions being a ridiculously long jumble of words, many people desire the iPhone enough to accept – probably without reading them,” Barnard said.
“When [people] want something bad enough, they’re quite happy to share pretty much anything,” he added.
However, with brands that don’t have something consumers desire, Barnard said the line becomes blurred.
“Unless brands can find a way in this day and age to build authentic one-to-one relationships with millions of people, then there’s a risk that you’re going to perish when the technology suddenly shoots up,” he said.
Barnard left the audience with one final question: “In a world where consumers don’t want to share their data with companies, are you doing anywhere near enough?”