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
Syzygy

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