In the aftermath of Facebook’s acknowledgement last month that concerns about Cambridge Analytica’s use of data emerged internally long before the news hit the public, we take a look at how the digital advertising industry can take responsibility for the data we handle to prevent such misuse happening again.
The State Of Things
Data is a key component in today’s digital advertising success. There is no getting away from that fact. Ad tech companies are the stewards of that precious data and with that comes enormous responsibility.
Fundamentally, as long as data is being collected, stored and processed in a compliant way there is nothing wrong. However, things do go wrong and when they do it has a big impact on the entire digital advertising ecosystem and the world in general – especially when the story is big enough to make national news headlines.
At the core of many data breaches is a lack of transparency around how and when these breaches happen. It’s a complex and confusing area, and this obfuscation leads, very quickly, to mistrust.
Facebook said that the data collection carried out by Cambridge Analytica was not against its policies and while that may be true, how many people really knew what those policies were, or are today? It’s human nature to be curious, but when curiosity causes doubt, it is inevitable that a scandal will emerge.
Misuse And Mistrust
In digital advertising, data equals revenue and, unfortunately, that sometimes clouds the judgement of otherwise legitimate business practices. This allows the gulf between control and execution to sometimes become too big.
There’s another side to the use of data for advertising purposes and that’s the impact for consumers.
Generally, consumers are not aware of what data is being collected, how it is being used, or where it is being shared. When stories of data breaches come out and the transparency is highlighted, trust wanes even further.
This continuing issue at Facebook has left advertisers reevaluating how effective their investment in the platform is and even if their presence on the platform is harming their relationship with consumers.
Without proper frameworks in place, any company can fall foul of the law – or morality – and the consequences can be enormous. We built illuma in response to this burgeoning issue and to bring to the fore a desire to increase levels of transparency, illuminate our industry, and provide brands with a trusted partner to run their programmatically enabled campaigns. Hence the name illuma.
As an ad tech company functioning in the digital marketing space, we have learnt that sometimes it is best not to rely on personal data. This can be applicable for any company within any sector, whether your marketing is undertaken in-house or through an agency or tech provider. Our technology doesn’t use personal data and is an approach that can be implemented across sectors.
We have developed a process utilising real-time on-page contextual data which we use to find consumers who are in the right mindset to engage with any given brands’ advertising. This not only optimises the chance of marketing collateral having a direct impact on the right consumer at the right time, but it reflects their own purchasing mindset – coming across less personalised and creepy and more perfectly placed. We have found it to be the most powerful way to deliver better advertising campaigns for brands AND their consumers. Win-win for everyone.
Whether you’re selling tools to construction companies as a B2B organisation or pushing make-up to consumers through B2C channels, focusing on contextual data and consumer mindset allows you (and us) to empower the real value creators in the advertising ecosystem.
By using sophisticated technology to create simple solutions that drive commercial benefits everyone can play a part in helping brands build great products, publishers to produce premium content, and the whole industry to create better consumer experiences.