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Data Governance – You Are the Boss

  • Bryan Donovan

    Bryan Donovan

Created at May 18th, 2015

Data Governance – You Are the Boss

You’re not the boss of me!” I remember my brother yelling at me one family vacation decades ago.  It’s true, I wasn’t the boss of him but being his older brother I was trying to “govern” him per my parents instructions to keep him out of trouble.  I wanted him to stay off the sharp, barnacle encrusted rocks off the beach we were exploring.

Being an “older brother” of sorts in the data-driven marketing world, Acxiom also has a responsibility to govern.  In our case, it’s governing consumer data in order to keep our company, clients and data partners out of trouble.  Like me watching over my brother, those like Acxiom, responsible for consumer data stewardship, provide the guidance and approaches necessary to avoid a bad experience that could ruin more than a family vacation.

Improperly handling consumer data can be more painful to companies than a boy slipping on barnacled rocks.  Access to, and permission to use, consumer data will increasingly require a thoughtful approach providing transparency that enables trust in all aspects of a brand.

Utilizing consumer data for marketing in a legal and ethical way requires strong data governance, and the expectations are increasing as awareness grows.  It takes process and discipline to abide by state, federal, and international laws along with industry self-regulatory guidelines.  In fact, the effort required spans the complete lifecycle of consumer data management including:

Data origination

  • Permissible uses of collected data
  • Access to and controls around the data
  • Methods of distribution and use cases enabled
  • The process for updating, refreshing or replacing
  • Data removal and deletion

Consumer data governance obligations will vary across the three main consumer data marketing use cases I outlined in my first post:


This includes matching and linking use cases, where data such as name, address, e-mail address, and mobile ad ID are used to connect information.  There are new and emerging considerations regarding what data can be used, and what data can be linked, especially in mobile.  As an example, the DAA recently announced that enforcement of their new Mobile Guidance will begin on September 1, 2015.


This covers both selection and suppression of consumers based on known and modeled data.  We have criteria governing the ethical uses of data which help ensure both respect for the consumer and the opportunity for more relevant messaging from the marketer.

Analytics & Measurement

The use cases in this category cover descriptive statistics and segmentation, which enable insights into group profiling and return-on-investment analyses.  To avoid the risks of re-identification (which can require its own set of protocols) there are considerations such as minimum group sizes and level of aggregation required when dealing with sensitive information like product purchases and TV viewership.

Although marketing is evolving at a rapid pace, and technology enables new innovations in big data collection and analysis, it is critical to slow down enough to plan for privacy by design.  This will enable the control you need over consumer information while building a competitive advantage for your business.

While handling consumer data properly can be as challenging as trying to boss around my brother, you can be the boss of your data if you take a thoughtful approach.