Covid-19 Tracking: Privacy Risks and Lessons for Digital Advertising

The surveillance systems now being rolled out for the pandemic are unlikely to have a direct impact on local marketers. However, the debates that they have precipitated should remind us all of the importance of customer trust when it comes to data collection. 

In short, advertisers who rely on consumer data should ensure that they are only collecting what they need, that they store and process this securely, and that they are open and transparent with their customers about collection. Many of those same best practices apply to governments collecting data to fight Covid-19.

The Risk of Emphasizing Data Quantity Over Quality

The privacy movement heralded by January’s implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act has shone a spotlight on the ethical issues surrounding data collection. But digital marketing insiders know that ethics is not the only issue plaguing data-driven business.

Ensuring the quality and accuracy of data is a major challenge for marketers, data brokers, and consumers. Drew Kutcharian, CTO and co-founder of audience platform DISQO, checked in with Street Fight to provide his vision of the data quality-quantity balance and how privacy legislation will affect it going forward.

The Data Protection Act: Dangerous Pitfall or Hope for the Future?

Though the Data Protection Act is in the beginning stages, 19 states already have similar regulations underway, indicating that these policies are part of a fundamental shift that will impact all Americans over the next decade, marketers included. Marketing leaders need to realize that this new commitment to customer privacy is not a passing trend and must prepare accordingly without wasting any more time.

Heard on the Street, Episode 46: Improving Road Safety with Your iPhone

Insurance is typically viewed as an old-school industry that’s not very sexy. But Cambridge Mobile Telematics VP Ryan McMahon thinks insurance gets a bad wrap in that respect. As the latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast, his company is innovating actuarial work and safer roads.

McMahon’s firm accomplishes that by capitalizing on the powerful computer we all carry around (and drive around) in our pockets. Given all its sensors like GPS and accelerometers, the modern smartphone packs ample situational awareness. One of the things it can do is detect signals that indicate driving quality.

The Risks and Rewards of Today’s Data Privacy Landscape

With media outlets like The New York Times working to educate consumers and legislators striving to protect consumers’ rights with the introduction of CCPA and GDPR, awareness of the possible costs of these privacy trade-offs is growing, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to understand the changing privacy landscape.

That’s why we commissioned a new Privacy Report from Wakefield Research, asking both consumers and marketers about how they feel about the risks and rewards of data practices today.

Protecting People, Not Just Data: What Consumers Trust by Industry Suggests About Privacy

Market research firms ranked second only to financial institutions on our trust index, with 52.7% confirming their trust in market research firms to protect their data, and 8.8% noting a strong trust in the same. Indeed, even though people arguably share similarly sensitive information on both social media sites and with researchers, they are 1.6 times more likely to trust researchers than social platforms.

Why is this? It’s because it is the duty and responsibility of market researchers to foster a relationship of trust by openly engaging people, diligently protecting their data and privacy, and fairly rewarding them for their participation — and it is because that mission is continuously reinforced and communicated.

As Privacy Regulations Shake Out, New Winners Emerge

Not even one month has passed since the implementation of California’s newest data privacy regulations, and some winners and losers are already beginning to emerge. As companies across the country work to comply with this new state law, fundamental shifts are happening and some brands are going back to an older style of data collection and usage.

How this retreat is viewed depends on who you’re talking to. Industry veterans like Dawn Colossi, chief marketing officer at FocusVision, see the return to more traditional forms of data collection as a good thing. Others in the industry have a different view on what returning to older forms of data collection will ultimately mean for technology and marketing firms.

Do Cashierless Stores Present a Privacy Risk to Consumers?

Amazon’s convenience stores rely heavily on location technology to track consumers’ movements inside buildings. Cameras analyze shopping behaviors, strategically placed microphones listen to conversations, and information about consumers’ shopping habits is stored in a central database that Amazon can reference for future operational and strategic planning.

“As cashierless stores take off, more and more personal and payment data will be transmitted through phones and mobiles devices and stored in cloud-based software platforms,” says Ruston Miles, chief strategy officer at Bluefin. “This means that hackers will have more network access to this data through vulnerable providers and merchants.”

Back to Basics: Data Collection in the New Privacy Era

Some widely used marketing methods, like firmographics and psychographics, are coming to a halt as brands are forced to consider whether consumers actually want to receive their messages. In place of those practices, marketers are returning to older forms of data collection to once again create differentiated customer experiences, explains Dawn Colossi, chief marketing officer at the market research technology company FocusVision.

“I think with digital transformation came the notion that brand marketing didn’t matter as much because you could just target your audience,” says Colossi. “But with limitations on targeting and spamming, getting your brand known for things that customers care about—and this comes from understanding how they think and feel—will be crucial for marketers.”

Takeaways From ‘The Other CES 2020’ That Location-Minded Marketers Need to Know

CES provided a unique showcase for the importance of connected TV (CTV); it’s one of the few events that wrangles hardware, media, and advertising companies into the same place for a week. Within digital advertising, this topic is number one, and not outlining your strategy to support CTV in 2020 was a way to cut any CES meeting short. Companies that have moved from video to TV, such as Amobee or Telaria/Rubicon, exciting new combinations of TV and digital assets such as Xandr; programmatic TV leaders like The Trade Desk; and companies that have been long on TV for years such as Samba TV should have a fantastic 2020 ahead of them.

Roundtable: How Google’s Third-Party Cookie Announcement Will Disrupt Search, Ad Tech

Google indicated it is making the change to boost user privacy on the Web, and the company believes digital advertising can survive on the back of evolving, more privacy-aware data sources. Chief among those sources, at least in the case of Chrome, will be Google’s privacy sandbox, which will offer advertisers and ad tech companies personalization opportunities based on browser data without granting them direct access to user-level information.

To size up the impact of Google’s announcement on ad tech and hyperlocal marketing, we turned to a slate of industry professionals for their takes on the move.

What Consumers Believe About Ads: Effectiveness, Creepiness, Transparency

The good news for advertisers is that members of Gen-Z, while finding ads just about as threatening to privacy as respondents of every other age group, appear to see their benefits, too. Forty-six percent of Gen-Zers said personalization can be beneficial, compared to 30-36 percent of older age groups. About three quarters of respondents in all age ranges said personalizations imperils privacy.

How Much Consumers Value Transparent Privacy Practices

Potential legal troubles and CCPA’s enforceability weaknesses aside, the Tealium study suggests a strong record on privacy will be a boon to brands as privacy increasingly takes center stage in the public consciousness. Ninety-seven percent of consumers said they are at least somewhat concerned about data privacy, and 85% said they won’t forgive a company’s misuse of their data.

Tech Vendors See Opportunity in CCPA Compliance

The California Consumer Privacy Act has just recently gone into effect, and full enforcement won’t begin for another six months, but companies are already making big changes as they endeavor to ensure compliance.

Under the new CCPA regulations, companies are required to notify users of the intent to monetize their data and provide users with the ability to easily opt out of data monetization. Many companies are struggling to come into compliance, but for businesses that work with multiple technology vendors, the issue is creating even more headaches.

January Focus: Pursuing Privacy

As we straddle the precipice of a new year and a new decade, the next milestone in privacy legislation looms: the California Consumer Privacy Act. As California’s version of GDPR, it is the first major US privacy legislation. It will set a precedent and kick-start a domino effect for other states and may even lead to federal data privacy moves.

“Pursuing privacy” will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of January. You may have noticed our monthly themes: December focused on the connected consumer, November’s focused on holiday shopping, October on local commerce verticals, and September on mapping (more on those in a bit).

Free and Premium Loyalty Programs Can and Should Coexist

Brands like Lululemon and Restoration Hardware have strong, headline-making loyalty programs with annual fees upwards of $100. But thousands of brands also have free, points-based loyalty programs — can the two coexist in a single brand? 

The short answer: Yes. With shoppers’ desire for richer experiences and more valuable rewards and retailers’ need to gather data to support these desires, a blend of both premium and free loyalty is an advantageous route. 

Companies Are Struggling to Manage IoT Data. Here’s Why

The devices around us are getting smarter. From the consumer’s perspective, that means refrigerators are sending notifications when the milk is running low, and thermostats are turning down the temperature when there’s no movement in the house. Businesses are relying on the data generated by connected devices to improve algorithms and make their existing products even smarter, but collecting and managing large volumes of data is creating a new set of challenges.

Globally, the IoT market is expected to reach $212 billion by the end of this year. With the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices projected to top 43 billion by 2023, the challenges associated with managing large amounts of data in real-time are growing at a rapid pace.

3 Data Trends to Watch in 2020

Data-driven marketing investments are growing rapidly. In the US, data spend grew almost $3 billion in the last year. Not surprisingly, the number of data-related challenges has increased as well. 2019 saw privacy regulations usher in broad changes across the ecosystem, causing widespread concerns around the future of data-driven targeting. 

Ahead of the new year, we identified three key trends to look out for. These trends — as well as some proactive steps companies can take today — will set up data partners for success in 2020 and beyond. 

For Luxury Brands, The Possibilities of Programmatic Cannot Be Ignored

For luxury brands, creating customer relationships, and the revenues they bring, is everything. A $25,000 watch or $150,000 vehicle is rarely an impulse buy but instead a purchase achieved after many different points of engagement. 

Programmatic advertising is taking an increasingly higher percentage of all ad budgets, and luxury brands and their marketing efforts need to hop on board with this trend. Digital advertising has the power to use contextual targeting and select first-party data to find the right audiences at the right times and in the right places, no matter how high-echelon the product.

Carriers, It’s Time to Weld the Lid Shut on Customers’ Data

Personalization and privacy seem inherently at odds. After all, media companies such as Facebook act like vacuum hoses for data – collecting much more than they need. That’s problematic in a world where data breaches dominate headlines nearly every week. However, where Facebook and others go low, mobile carriers can go high. In fact, mobile carriers that aim to be media companies have a huge opportunity to respect privacy while providing great personalization in their original content.  

So, how can carriers take this high road — that is, deliver personalized content experiences without storing consumers’ personal information? By focusing on the device itself – leveraging local storage and client-side execution (rather than requiring server interaction) to help carriers deliver a personalized experience that is incredibly safe. This allows carriers to implement the industry-changing trend of device-centric discovery (DCD), which makes it easy for subscribers to find news/sports/entertainment/games without having to wade through multiple apps and searches. With DCD, carriers can create personalized content experiences that don’t expose subscribers’ personal data to external privacy risks, and in the process, become mobile media leaders.