Thursday, 3 May 2018

What the Cambridge Analytica scandal teaches marketers about data privacy

What do customers’ needs mean for marketers? Marketers rely on data to target users with ads. Does that mean your customers want targeted advertising rather than their privacy? The Cambridge Analytica scandal reveals that data leakage has become a marketing practice.


Mark Zuckerberg appears before the committees of the US Congress (Image source: The Guardian)

Professor Mark Ritson reminds us that customers’ needs are not what marketers think. According to YouGov research, 55% of British viewers hate personalised advertising, but don’t worry, this doesn’t mean marketers cannot use customer data. YouGov's research categorises the British adult population into two segments: ‘Customers who believe that ads helped them decide what to buy’ and ‘Customers who accept targeted ads to some extent’.  ‘Personalised Pioneers’ is the one segment which likes to engage with targeted ads, meaning that we can target this group of customers.

Image source: Marketing Week

Privacy is about respecting customers. We should explain to consumers in detail instead of hiding the terms and conditions. Here is a great reminder from Steve Jobs eight years ago. At the D8 Conference in 2010, he stated, “Privacy means people know what they are signing up for… I believe people are smart and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of you asking them. Let them know exactly what you are going to do with their data. That’s what we believe".

Current Apple Chief Executive, Tim Cook, also emphasises that marketing does not need a personalised data mountain for the future. Indeed, we should change the focus on improving customer satisfaction in innovative product design rather than targeting customers.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal alerts marketers to focus on customers’ real needs. It’s a time for us to review the marketing practice and reinstate our relationship with data privacy.

Original article: 'Mark Ritson: This is a critical point in marketers' relationship with data privacy', posted by Marketing Week - April 3, 2018.

Peggy Lau
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

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