John Story is the VP, Deputy General Counsel at Acoustic. Here, he explains how an ethical approach to data will help organisations gain a competitive edge in the modern marketing landscape.
Over the past few years, data privacy has been in the spotlight. The latest twist in the mix saw Apple stepping in the right direction as it sets to roll out new privacy restrictions for iPhone users. Google is also listening and responding to consumers’ heightened concerns for how their data is collected and used, announcing plans to remove third-party cookies by 2023, thereby putting consumers back in the driver’s seat.
While these major players are stepping up to the plate, with ever-changing regulations and a more privacy-aware consumer, many organisations struggle to ensure their practices and policies are keeping pace. Today, it isn’t enough to just focus on data “privacy.” To win with the consumer, brands need to get serious about data ethics.
The Platinum Rule
There’s a reason the phrase “data is the new oil” was coined, and experienced marketers know this better than anyone. Having valuable customer data can mean the difference between creating a highly personalised campaign that hits every KPI set or one that falls flat. However, marketers must also acknowledge that consumers are more conscious of how their data is being used, and not every consumer wants to provide their personal information to marketers.
A guiding principle that marketers should consider when approaching data privacy and ethics is the “Platinum Rule.” Wherein the “Golden Rule” says to “treat people the way you want to be treated,” the Platinum Rule says to “treat people how they want to be treated.” No marketer wants to be perceived as “creepy”, so approaching the subject with data ethics in mind will allow for more strategic discussions and a better response from consumers. Organisations must also follow proper governance around data privacy, monitor trends that change the data landscape, and address any future ethical challenges with their customers in mind.
Placing an emphasis on data ethics throughout the entire organisation will help marketers adopt a human-centered approach to data privacy. Your organisation may also want to consider introducing a set of guidelines or an ethical data use framework to refer to throughout the data lifecycle, including how data is collected, stored, used, shared, and disposed of, as well as the quality and accuracy of that data.
This shift in thinking may seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be, rather it can offer organisations a chance to rethink how they do business and marketers to innovate their campaigns. With consumer sensitives around data use higher than ever, being transparent about data ethics can become a competitive differentiator for your organisation. Industries like tech grew faster than data privacy laws and regulations could keep up, but now that they have, consumers are taking an active interest into how their personal data is used. These consumers are more likely to reward businesses that go beyond what’s required of them with brand loyalty.
Commitment is an action, not a word
Amid the ever-changing privacy landscape we find ourselves in, data privacy and ethics shouldn’t just be thought of as a box to be checked when creating a marketing campaign. The implications of data ethics need to be considered before a campaign is executed and throughout its entire lifecycle. That’s where the role of the chief data ethics officer (CDEO) comes into play.
All organisations that are serious about data ethics should consider implementing a CDEO. The CDEO reinforces a company’s commitment to ethically sourcing data as the CDEO’s primary responsibility is to promote trust to all stakeholders, including customers, employees, and regulators. They are in charge of implementing organisation-wide ethical data principles and frameworks that ensure ethics are upheld throughout the entire data lifecycle.
Not only will businesses with ethical data use practices be rewarded on their bottom lines with customer loyalty, transparency will help these businesses succeed when it comes to satisfying all stakeholders. The one rule to keep in mind is that privacy is about respect —respecting your customers, their data, and how said data is used.
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