Data too precious to give up without fight

European Parliament flags

With regard to your article ‘Data ownership question needs solving too’ , it is clear the EU data guardians have their crosshairs resting on an issue of increasing significance in the digital age. Few would argue there is a profound lack of clarity to data privacy and indeed data ownership. That said, the proposed changes due to come into effect in 2016 will render both targeting and analytics and almost anyone currently engaged in digital marketing to have to review their current practices.

We have already witnessed a backlash against EU plans as the Direct Marketing Association, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Information Commissioners Office and a large coalition of uncertain UK trade bodies have thrown their support behind the swell of lobbying against the EU legislation.

It seems the EU data regulators need to review their objectives and encourage data responsibility rather than set out restrictive and widespread “data gatekeeping”.

Data remains the universal language by which businesses and consumers can communicate, to the benefit of both parties. Commerce is now quietly holding its collective breath – the EU data committee has a chance to preserve this relationship and throw out the pirates. With the upcoming vote on the draft due at the end of April, there is hope that the proposals, even if they make it on to statute books, will be modified to reflect business practicalities.

Data provides the conduit between brands and their consumers and a heavy-handed approach to this EU legislation threatens to damage this reciprocal relationship for good. The data industry and responsibility have not always gone hand in hand, we have been given a chance to change, and now we need to react.

John Pooley, managing director, The Data Partnership

Avoid the pitfalls of a multinational website

Organisations across the UK and Europe are being encouraged to look for expansion outside domestic borders. For any company with a strong online presence, expanding the model into new countries is compelling. As long as the back-end service and customer fulfilment processes are in place, creating new, dedicated, country-specific websites is a low risk approach to tapping into valuable new markets.

Simply opting to create a local language site for each new country may seem an obvious solution but as organisations are rapidly discovering, it is also fundamentally important to reflect market maturity and local attitudes to messaging and offers.

It is tempting to apply the experience and expertise gained in the home market to new arenas, and there are obvious opportunities to leverage economies of scale, particularly around the creation of a single infrastructure, usability improvements or bug fixes. But applying this model to content creation and offering a single source of content is a mistake. Over the past few years, organisations with a mature presence in markets such as the UK, Germany or the Nordics, for example, have exploited the insights provided by testing to fundamentally reduce the amount of information on a page. For those sites that have grown organically, rethinking the purpose of the page and stripping out information has resulted in higher conversion rates.

This model does not work in less mature markets, especially if the organisation is providing a product or service that, by default, requires more information to support the buying decision. Failure to understand that fundamental difference in customer experience and expectation will result in disappointing returns.

By using local insight to drive and test local content, organisations can reinforce global brand values while reflecting local culture. Critically, it also puts in place a model that minimises the cost of expansion while ensuring the company taps into the specific requirements of each new market.

So yes, there are opportunities to leverage economies of scale but without creating dedicated, region-specific content, organisations risk disenfranchising potential customers in new markets. It is by testing and refining that country-specific content that organisations can rapidly build on online expertise and achieve the vision of low-cost international expansion.

Nick Nottle, head of client services, Maxymiser

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