Data Ethics

Data Privacy and People-Based Marketing: Q&A with Emily Chi

March 20, 2018  |   LiveRamp

Marketing is complex, and building increasingly sophisticated tech stacks and data partnerships have become table stakes for marketers just looking to keep up.

As a result, many are rightly becoming increasingly cautious about consumer privacy and associated laws and regulations: a recent Forrester study found that one of the biggest obstacles to adopting new and innovative people-based marketing channels was trepidation about violating data privacy rules and regulations.

So we sat down with Emily Chi, LiveRamp’s Director of Data Ethics for Public Policy and Client Services, to unpack these concerns, and find out what marketers can do to confidently move forward with new people-based marketing initiatives with data privacy in mind.

In a recent study from Forrester, almost half of marketers surveyed say their primary challenge with people-based marketing is ensuring they respect consumer privacy. What’s the source of these concerns?

There is a lack of visibility and education on how people-based marketing works today—when people hear “people-based,” they assume that it means we know the identity of the individual and everything about them.

They don’t realize that there is a highly technical means to running their marketing campaigns at the person-level, while protecting an individual’s identity and privacy. People-based marketing requires a number of technologies that have to work in tandem, and data privacy consciousness and ethical frameworks need to be built into each layer.

LiveRamp may process a lot of data about a person, but we don’t know who they are. People-based marketing can be implemented with de-identified data, so an individual’s identity is protected, but the marketing results are still accurate and valuable.

We can overcome these data privacy concerns and fears by making sure the companies offering solutions, the marketers running people-based marketing campaigns, and consumers are all on the same page about how the process works and the stringent data privacy considerations and protections that are implemented in tandem.

What can marketers do to better align themselves with their internal privacy/security teams?

Privacy, data ethics, and security should be included in discussions as early as possible! It is always easier to integrate data privacy and security measures before a product or workflow is built out than to force compliance afterwards. There are easy ways to integrate safeguards and best practices from the beginning.

Even if the ideas are not fully baked, your data privacy and security counterparts can help you think about the parameters to work within and the rules to keep in mind as you brainstorm. This helps ensure the solutions you build work ethically the first time around, instead having to revisit and rebuild for compliance later on. Marketing strategy and privacy/security strategy should go hand in hand.

How are marketers responding to consumers’ worries about data privacy breaches and, more generally, companies having a ton of information about them that they themselves may not be aware of?

Consumers don’t know how their data and activity are being collected and how it is being used. The most problematic cases we’ve seen in the industry are often where an individual’s information was being compiled and then shared or sold without the individual’s knowledge.

This becomes even more precarious when the information is sensitive or used in ways that do not fit consumer expectations. Consumers should always be informed about how their data is being used, particularly when the data is more sensitive, or it is being used in newer use cases that individuals may not be familiar with.

It’s also important to make sure that consumers also know that they have agency over their data. There are several ways consumers can opt-out of marketing or select their personal preferences, like the DAA’s AdChoice Program.

When consumers make these choices, companies then have a responsibility to uphold their promise to honor these requests. Creating more transparency on these consumer options and how they work could alleviate some of the concerns consumers have about access and control of their data.

What are marketing’s blind spots that can damage their brands?

Marketing needs to be consumer-centric; we need to consider the marketing experience from a user’s perspective. Are we making marketing more useful and relevant? Are we being respectful of users’ data privacy and preferences? Does this campaign keep consumers’ best interests in mind?

It’s becoming more imperative than ever to build consumers’ trust. As we’ve been seeing with GDPR, there’s a policy trend of providing consumers with more choices. Consumers will have more and more opportunities to decide who they trust with their data and would like to receive marketing from, and who they do not.

What role does technology have in causing or alleviating these concerns?

Today’s technology makes it easier to collect and honor user preferences—consumers will be able to personalize and control more of their data than before. However, consumers are also wary of how developing technology gives brands new ways to collect data or interact with them, particularly ones that they did not invite or do not understand.

Newly emerging technology and expanding use cases like facial recognition, location data, biometric data, and IoT can exacerbate consumer concerns. Transparency, clear communication to consumers, and honoring users’ choices will only become more imperative to maintaining consumer trust and alleviating these concerns.

To learn more about using identity resolution for people-based marketing and reaching consumers in a privacy-conscious manner, read Forrester’s report here.