Brands have more access to consumer data today than ever before. When used effectively, this data fuels targeting, personalization, and segmentation, unlocking tremendous value for brands.
But with this power, comes responsibility.
This article explores both the opportunities and challenges of personalization in an age of privacy reform, and how creating the means for deeper value exchange can craft a more welcomed future.
As the volume of consumer data continues to compound, GDPR’s steady march continues to drive major change for tech companies, data providers, and especially marketers alike.
Not many are used to having to disclose what aspects of the data they were storing, what they were using it for, or why they wanted it.
And with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) going into effect in January 2020, this signals more regulation to come.
According to a report published by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, 57% of consumers don’t trust brands to use their data responsibly.
Aside from the expected cookie tracking notifications popping up on every site, customers still don’t have total control of their data.
At the same time data creation continually compounds, and tech companies continually innovate new ways to leverage data into business value.
This dynamic opens up an opportunity to build trust with consumers by offering transparency and insight into how their data is used.
Given the general public’s adverse reception to the menacing overlords of AI and machine learning automation, trust must be slowly earned, and can be revoked quickly if taken for granted.
GDPR has started to put pressure on companies to be more respectful of the individual.
But putting the people in control of their data as the real opportunity, giving them more power to determine what they want in return.
With the people empowered, brands will be forced to innovate new ways to leverage AI-driven data while increasing alignment with what real people will actually welcome.
In these early stages, GDPR-like trends may seem like a burden, but as companies bolster trust with consumers, it will become a sustainable approach, fostering innovation, accountability, and ways to drive economic incentives.
Consumers will also be more mindful of opt-ins and will increasingly question, “what’s in it for me?”
In return for customer trust, brands must find creative ways to consistently answer that key question by providing a more unique value exchange—beyond incentives towards more creative customer experiences.
This is why creativity must go hand in hand with relevancy.
With current opt-in regulations, as well as limitations on what can be collected, marketers must embrace customer centricity.
It also means marketers will need to use data as efficiently as possible, invest in deeper data science skill sets, and explore more astute predictive modeling capabilities that improve over time despite new data and increased fragmentation.
To put it bluntly, social media platforms productize users and “sell” them to brands.
In this new future we envision, they could enable users to set their own preferences, determining what would be most welcomed in their feeds (content, offers, etc.).
For some, it will be to maximize contextual relevance, so they’re informed via content focused on what they are interested in at any given moment in time, guaranteeing content they look forward to, play with, talk about or find useful.
For others it will be about prioritizing anything that makes things more affordable, more accessible, more rewarding or more exciting.
Customer experience focused on what’s welcome will build trust and create new means for more aligned value exchange in the future.
Even if this doesn’t create an immediate digital utopia, it will at least move the needle in the right direction.
In an increasingly complex and data-regulated world, marketers should seize the opportunity to compete on trust, transparency, truth in data ethics, and incentivized value exchanges for their audiences.
Personalization algorithms will continue to get smarter, but so should control preferences enabled by marketers and the tech platforms that connect them with their customers.
Graham Phillips is Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at customer experience agency LIDA. He is driven by a belief that the obvious answers in life are boring. Graham prefer to design his work product and processes around more personally ‘unexpected truths’, having found them more effective insights as they, by definition, must be simultaneously surprising and familiar.