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EDITOR’S BLOG 220318 Data dangers

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The furore around what Cambridge Analytica and Facebook may or may not have done with 50 million peoples’ data brings into sharp focus not only fact that today’s digital world is driven by the stuff, but also that one must handle it with care.

It is like this generation’s nuclear waste: a powerful new tool, but we are still finding out how to deal with it. And you don’t want Chernobyl fall out in front of everyone now do you?

While what may have gone on with using harvested Facebook data, algorithms and fake news is a story that will run and run – with huge consequences – the everyday stuff of data handling is also something that everyone in the digital world must be up to speed with. And it seems that many aren’t.

GDPR comes into force in a little under two months and it seems to have focussed people’s minds on the data they have and what to do with it. And the picture it paints ain’t pretty.

Interestingly, more than half of UK consumers are prepared to share some of their data with brands – typically their location, what they are doing and what interests them at certain times – if they are going to get something back in return, especially loyalty points.

But they are less keen to share their private conversations from the messaging platforms they are active on. Thereafter, a consumer’s search history from their web browser was the next most citied source of data that consumers would refrain from wanting to sharing at 51%.

In contrast consumers would be least uncomfortable sharing their personal data on fitness trackers at 36%. Just ranked slightly above by 1%, 37% of UK consumers would feel apprehensive sharing data on their mood.

Clearly there are rich pickings out there for brands that want to collect data. The problem is, while most marketers understand the value of data, most are not really doing anything constructive with it.

A study by Rakuten Marketing of a 1000 UK marketers suggests, alarmingly, that many of them think that they will waste a quarter of this year’s marketing budget because they will target the wrong people through the wrong channels and at the wrong times.

Many are also not collecting and measuring the right things either. Another survey, this time by Criteo, finds that marketers across the UK are missing out on revenue and on delivering an improved customer experience by not measuring the lifetime value of their customers.

The challenges facing marketers looking to capitalise on a long-term customer view means that a three out of four (76%) UK organisations are not able to effectively measure CLV despite its tangible impact on sales, customer loyalty and speed to market.

With GDPR just around the corner, we can only hope that while focussing on the details of how they store and use data, brands and companies will also seek to take a look at what their overall data strategy actually is and what it is for. Data is extremely valuable – and can be extremely dangerous if handled wrongly – but to extract the value you have to know what you want to do with it. While looking at how GDPR impacts your business it might also be worth thinking about what it is you are hoping to achieve.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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