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Recommendations for Protecting Consumer Privacy and Trends to Watch

AcxiomDecember 23, 2013

Since Acxiom first created its privacy program in 1991, the privacy issues facing marketers and advertisers have evolved at an ever increasing pace. However, when you look at the history of many of the issues we face today, there are some lessons we can learn from the past. We will explore these more in future blogs.

Direct marketers and digital advertisers, unsurprisingly, are always trying to improve their bottom line – in other words, not waste messages on people who aren’t interested in them. That means understanding their customers and their marketplace and targeting messages appropriately. This has translated into efforts to collect more information and do more sophisticated analytics to better identify the “right” audience.

But, in chasing after this goal, we sometimes forget one important aspect – why we, at Acxiom, say “Don’t forget to RSVP”.

Respect for the individual: This means that just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should! Technology to collect and use data has far outpaced what individuals expect to happen and what are appropriate practices. Respect for consumers’ privacy has been undermined due to the many different attitudes about what is appropriate. A good example of these different attitudes is a recent study by MasterCard, What’s Your Digital DNA? MasterCard Study Reveals Five Global Online Personas. The study classifies the population into five similarly sized classifications with very different attitudes and sensitivities: Open Sharers, Simply Interactors, Solely Shoppers, Passive Users, and Proactive Protectors. Marketers should understand these and how to show respect for each type.

Sustainable campaigns and advertising practices: Each year, more federal and state laws restricting the collection and use of data are enacted, both domestically and internationally. Neither consumers nor policy makers really understand how data is collected and used, especially by third parties, for marketing and advertising. Consequently, laws don’t always deliver the protections desired by those passing them and these typically result in lots of unintended consequences that undermine sustainability. With Congress currently unable to pass complex legislation, as comprehensive privacy legislation will certainly be, we can expect the states to get far more active in 2014.

Value to consumers (as well as businesses): A recent economic study, The Value of Data: Consequences for Insight, Innovation, and Efficiency in the U.S. Economy, done by the Data Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI), found that data driven marketing added $156 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy and fueled more than 675,000 jobs in 2012. The study reports the real value of data is in its exchange across the environment, with innovation and small business being the biggest winners. Misinformed regulation could impact all of these benefits and slow economic growth since $110 billion in revenue is associated with data sharing.

Progressive policies must be developed by industry: Industry must lead, not follow, by developing more progressive policies and best practices where new technology has outpaced accepted practices. Practices must be contextual for, as we all know, one size does not fit all. The more control we, as an industry, can give consumers over the data we have about them, the better. If you haven’t visited Acxiom’s www.AboutTheData.com site recently, we encourage you to go there to learn about Acxiom’s marketing data.

Key issues to watch include:

  • The Senate Commerce Committee under Chairman Rockefeller just released its report and held a hearing on its investigation into data brokers. The announcement can be found at here. For a full copy of the report, email me at jennifer.glasgow@acxiom.com.
  • The FTC report on their investigation into data brokers is expected soon.
  • More FTC enforcement activity related to data brokers is expected in 2014.
  • Expect a lot of activity in the states related to privacy legislation and enforcement actions.

In subsequent postings, we will explore “Don’t forget to RSVP” in more detail and update you on issues to watch in the coming months.