When it comes to data, brands need to be a lot choosier

Marketing Week has written a lot recently about the need for brands to be transparent about their data use. Be open about privacy policy and communicative about the methods used to target prospective consumers and you will see the results so the mantra goes.

Russell Parsons

A recent report by Deloitte found a drop in the percentage of consumers that were “fully aware” of how brands use the data trail they leave from using online shopping sites, social media and smartphone apps etc – from 45 per cent in the firm’s 2012 report to 35 per cent this year. The reason, Deloitte confidently claimed, is overly detailed privacy policies.

Another report by The Data Agency and Direct Marketing Association found a significant minority were not happy for retailers to use their data. The reason, the report concluded, was a lack of trust.

The positive conclusion we can draw from this is at the very least the solution to the problem is in the hand of marketers. They can be more transparent and they can do what is necessary to build trust.

When it comes to data, brands should also be a bit choosier.

According to a story in today’s Metro, Big Brother Watch claims the names and addresses of thousands of voters that have not opted out of the edited electoral role have been passed on to 2,700 companies by local authorities over the last five years to be used in direct mail campaigns, the report says.

The civil liberty group says the practice “undermines the trust in the electoral system”. That is not for me to say but what is does do is undermine trust in direct marketing.

If DM, be it mail, email or social media, is to be effective it needs to be targeted and speak, wherever possible, to the recipient. Simply sending a mail to a person who has not ticked a box opting in or out of something completely unrelated is shoddy and will only serve to underline people’s worse fears about advertising mail in particular.

The law needs to be changed and or brands need to stop using these lists. It might net councils a few quid but ultimately it doesn’t serve them or the companies they are selling to.

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