What’s On

Next frontier of mobile marketing: personal data & privacy

Susanna Hasenoehrl, Blyk

Successful mobile marketers have understood that the key for connecting with mobile consumers lies in personalised and contextual experiences, which are based on people’s behavior, moods, mindsets and intents in specific moments of time and location. Even if some of the scenes in the Google Glass project are still somewhat further down the road, making use of these “mobile moments” – as coined by Barney Loehnis of OgilvyOne – represent both an opportunity as well as a potential risk for marketers today.

Consumers do not know what happens with their personal data

Provision of personally and contextually relevant services or advertising in the digital space requires insights and data. Terabytes of it are already being collected from our mobile devices, with and without our knowledge. Most mobile apps routinely gather personal information, such as location, social network user information or our contacts largely without our consent. And it is not just the somewhat dubious – yet often tempting – apps like girlsaround.me who do this. Even the biggest names in apps – Apple, Electronic Artists, the Angry Birds maker Rovio or Instagram – have been unlawfully transferring users’ mobile address books to their servers. Consumers, to a large degree, do not know what happens with their data or whom to trust.

You can be burned – whether you buy or own mobile media

The lack of transparency around consumer data limits both people’s mobile media consumption, and brands’ media choices. As a marketer, you would surely want your mobile advertising to only appear in the context of ‘clean’ media that does not expose consumers in ways they do not feel comfortable with. It is therefore essential to demand from your mobile media partners transparent privacy policies which, ideally, are aligned with your brand’s ethics and values.

In reality, it is unfortunately not that easy to implement as especially the so called ‘blind’ mobile ad networks provide very little information about where the ad will be finally shown, and how the consumer’s privacy is being treated. This does however not mean that your brand is not accountable for behaving responsibly with your user’s data – quite the opposite, in fact. As long as your logo is there, you need to care – and push your media partners to do so as well.

With an increasing importance of brands’ own mobile web sites and apps, it is clear that marketers are directly on the front line as mobile media owners too. It is therefore critical to take a clear stance on personal data & privacy, and to know how to manage it.

Brands can still distinguish themselves through good privacy practice

Despite the current challenges, the good news is that there is still an opportunity for brands to distinguish themselves through good data and privacy practices. Trust can be earned and adherence to a few basic principles will go along way towards establishing your good data reputation:

Ask people for their permission to collect specific information
Only collect information that is necessary
Tell people what you are going to do with it
If people ask, give them access to the personal information you hold about them, with the option to delete it
Keep information secure, accurate and up to date
Make someone in your organisation responsible for privacy

Give ‘em what they want – and build an asset out of it

It should be good practice for a brand that acts responsibly to communicate their data collection approach and privacy practice openly to their customers, to enable them to make an educated decision for the brand. Equally, a privacy policy should not just be offered with a “take it or leave it” approach.

We all have our individual preferences. One man’s secret is another man’s post on Facebook. Consumers’ individual willingness to share their very private and personal information should be respected – and they should be offered options clearly and candidly. I just don’t see why I cannot benefit from my favorite brand’s mobile services just because I am only willing to share my location but not all my contact details. Brands that get that, get me.

Make sure that the way you, your organization and your partners handle personal data becomes an asset, not a liability. Even if regulation especially in many Asian markets still provides a number of loopholes, it is not an excuse for treating consumers with disrespect.

 This blog is an abridged version of Susanna Hasenoehrl’s speech about “Targeting with respect” hold at the Mobile Advertising World in Singapore on April 26th, 2012.