Data ethics and marketing: Why it pays to be trasparent

Data ethics and marketing: Why it pays to be transparent with readers

data ethics marketing

Data is the most valuable asset when it comes to marketing – and the ethics around how that information is collected and used is becoming important.

Today’s digital customer expects – nay, demands – personalisation combined with engaging and exciting content, while global businesses, organisations and policymakers need to attract actionable leads. Both require an honest transaction of data.

Gone are the days of casting that wide net and getting a hundred million people coming to your site but disappearing instantly with nothing gained. Smart marketers realise that a hundred people engaging deeply with their content and learning is far more valuable.

As a consumer, you want to know your data is not only providing that personalised, useful content but you are also safeguarded against the dark side of spam and cybercrime.


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Realising the pandemic has caused more people to go online, Matt Brittin (President EMEA Business & Operations, Google) suggests data ethics in marketing should be front and centre of current business conversations.

“The entire digital ecosystem only functions if people can trust it. Data ethics is a process of choosing to do what’s right for people, rather than just a base level of compliance. This is a complex topic but companies care about it and want to get it right.”

Marketers ahead of the curve want to work at the sort of organisation that has an honest discussion with audiences about how personal data is used and – more to the point – are proud of how they use it.

How data underpins technology

The trio of GDPR, the end of third-party cookies and Covid-19, means getting useful effective data is more difficult than ever.

Yet its importance is clear, especially if you use technology within the marketing funnel. And let’s be clear – most marketers and businesses do.

“The first step is getting the right data, and the second step is applying creativity and problem solving exactly where it’s needed. You have to work through issues with discipline, without this you’ll be flying blind,” says Dan Sirk, VP of marketing at Anyline, a data-capture software provider.

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Marketing data ethics: Four ways to get your data exchange right

1) Offer relevant and useful content: Content should always, where possible, come from a position of expertise, knowledge and/or data.

Industry specialists are to be valued, as they create the relevant, contextual and up-to-date content desired. There is more value to be gained from learning about your readership than over-commercialising the content.

You can serve each audience with compatible content based on first-party data and create a healthy relationship between consumer and company.

Advertisers and clients are also more likely to trust platforms where the editorial line is underpinned by thorough subject research and honesty rather than clickbait and instant opinions.

2) Deliver non-invasive ads: User experience is more important than ever on websites given Google’s new algorithm (the Page Experience will rank usable sites higher, coming in May), nobody wants to be spammed or have their experience ruined by inescapable adverts.

Never underestimate just how many ads are served these days – the average person encounters between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day, according to PPC Protect.

Advertising only works if the people seeing it could benefit or learn from what’s being offered. And that is where improved data exchange (along with ethical decisions to partner with the right people) can result in useful ads.

3) Personalisation is key: Despite the sheer variety of potential businesses, investors or customers out there, they will undoubtedly share a major facet – they are mostly tech-savvy, and understand their data is valuable.

“70% of millennials are willing to let retailers track their browsing and shopping behaviours in exchange for a better shopping experience,” SmarterHQ, 2020

Marketers need to be the people offering audiences the content they want to see, when they want to see it.

4) Never store or share (unless explicitly requested) personal data: You need to understand – and communicate – that data privacy matters and personal data belongs to the user.

By only using data that is firmographic (company-based), first-party or consented, you are one step closer to a two-way relationship.

“According to a recent study, 83% of consumers want to see a clear link between the data they share and the direct benefits this provides them,” Acxiom, 2020

This article was produced by Press Gazette in association with Lead Monitor, New Statesman Media Group’s AI-driven marketing solution.

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