Data privacy issues

Michael Nutley’s article about targeted online marketing practices (MW 21 May) and the public’s concerns about privacy is a reminder that although we have access to insight, measurement and tracking techniques, in the wrong hands it can be disastrous.

Marketers have learned over the past two decades that bombarding consumers with unwanted messages is counter-productive. You only have to look at the junk mail and carpet bombing tags the discipline is only now finally shaking off to see how damaging naive and irresponsible actions can be.

Consumers are far too clued up about media to respond to heavy-handed marketing tactics. But with the tools we now have at our disposal there is no need for it, and they know it.

You only have to look at the success of the 19-year-old Tesco Clubcard to see how consumers readily give up information about themselves if it is handled respectfully and puts their needs first.

So the online marketers who are using clumsily executed behavioural targeting methods should take heed. If consumers feel you’ve got information about them they have not agreed to, that you have obtained it without being considerate and transparent and that it is not being used for their benefit, you risk alienating the very audience you want to win over.

Data, insight and behavioural tracking are the holy grail of marketing, but being allowed access to it is a privilege that must be valued and handled with the greatest of care.

Gareth Phillips
Managing director

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here