bigdog News

Private Property – keep off my data

November 2017

Written by Dan Marsh, Digital Director and Keith Carlton, Senior Data Planner


Brand stalking

We’ve all been there. Casually browsing the web without a care in the world. Checking the latest news, weather or football results – and persistently being served a display banner advertising that product you looked at briefly and decided against buying. Who knows, you might even have clicked on it! The digital marketer in me hopes so… it shows that targeted media works.

But how clued up is the average consumer on how their data is used to define what they see online? Do most people realise that their behaviours are anonymously tracked when they visit sites in order to retarget them? Or that brands use their consented data to profile and target them? More importantly… do they care? It’s a question that really impacts our approach to how data can be used efficiently for our clients.

Attitudes to Data Collection

To answer it, we must first look at attitudes to personal data. The valuable and sensitive stuff. Names, email address, postal addresses etc. and even financial information. Experian-DataIQ research from 2016 showed that nearly half of consumers surveyed prefer not to share their data unless they absolutely have to. With a third happy to share it provided they are given a reason why.


As our Senior Data Planner, Keith Carlton, puts it 'Consumers recognise data’s importance, but as brands, we seem to be jeopardising the way we are perceived to collect it, manage it, and use it'.

And here comes our obligatory mention of many marketer’s biggest consideration as we head into 2018 – GDPR. The new EU General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on 25th May 2018, with its stated aim to rebuild consumers’ confidence and trust when sharing personal data, and to put them in control of it in a way which they do not feel currently. And don’t for one minute think that Brexit will shield British organisations from its impact – the GDPR will be implemented in the UK.

So, the government is doing its bit to guarantee the responsible collection, storage, processing and use of data. Problem solved, right? Not quite. According to a survey by the Institute of Company Directors, 30% of the 869 members questioned had never heard of GDPR. That’s nearly a third of influential decision makers completely unaware! GDPR provides the framework and regulation for organisations to responsibly get their data policies in order, but they real key to success lies in its implementation and, more importantly, the value that provides to customers.

The exponential growth in ad blocking over recent years is a clue to how consumers feel about the misuse of their data. And at the core of the GDPR stands the ‘right to be forgotten’: much more than the current right to stop direct marketing, this is a mechanism which potentially allows us to have all data held about us deleted. If marketers continue to misuse or neglect personal data, rest assured that consumers will take advantage of this right. We need to get it right – now. And if you’re unsure about how GDPR might affect your business, then please get in touch.

The Science bit

To truly harness the power of data beyond the legislation, we need to look past the numbers – and to the individuals. Many organisations still rely on broadcast approaches to their consumers, approaches which become increasingly intrusive and irritating as consumers navigate the digital world. Many organisations have implemented CRM programmes, but all too often still based around a business perspective, not a customer one.

Modern programmatic techniques, data science and analytics and integrated digital systems can do a lot more than simple targeting and segmentation; they can help craft truly personalised communications to customers. Unsurprisingly, such strategies are not only effective, but improve customer confidence. For example, research into attitudes to financial services (one of the least trusted sectors globally since 2008) found that 64% of global banking customers desired more personalised communications from their bank. Contrast that with 83% of UK banking customers feeling their bank does not know or trust them.

There is consumer desire for brands to use personal data effectively, and yet the majority do not live up to expectations. Is it any wonder consumers are sceptical about data use when it provides so little genuine value to their experience?

‘Confidence comes in the sense of believing that we can talk to fewer customers or prospects than before’ says Keith ‘But still achieve our aims because we are talking in the right way to the right people, through relevant and informed targeting. Batch and blast needs to become a thing of the past, and not the ‘norm’ it is now.’

Rethink your communications

At bigdog, we have 3 simple recommendations to start organisations on their way to effective use of personal data and communications:

  1. End batch and blast. Listen to what consumers have told us they want to receive. Start to use long-established but underused techniques to segment consumers on the basis of behavioural, attitudinal and motivational metrics in the data. Use modelling and propensity targeting tools to re-align what we send out with what consumers want, or are likely to want.
  2. Learn dynamically from the consumer. Examine browsing behaviours, and by reviewing open, click and engagement metrics, so that we can stop sending out unopened email after unopened email.
  3. Place the consumer at the centre of the model. So that much of what we do is driven by consumer triggers, rather than the traditional marketing cycle.

Next year’s implementation of GDPR will enhance consumer rights of protection, access and permissions as to how their data is used. The onus is even greater on organisations to ensure they do not fall foul of increasingly savvy consumers who know their rights - exactly as it should be.

But really the focus is on providing the customer with value and positive experiences. If personal data brings brands and customer closer together for a shared benefit and a more harmonious relationship, then who wouldn’t buy into that? And if that’s something you’re keen to adopt for your business, get in touch for a chat and we’d be delighted to help.

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