Cyber-security, data breaches and failure to protect data are big news. It is not confined to the finance world. Facebook recently paid huge fines for how it collected data and with whom that data was shared. They are not alone for intense scrutiny. Data is extremely important in advertising/media and its’ value will continue to grow. At the same time the public is increasingly aware of how data is used and misused. For marketers, ethics in advertising data is of paramount concern.

Consumers are over-whelmed with advertising. Because of that, they are particular about what they engage with. By using data, marketers greatly increase the chances of their ad being opened or viewed. Actions that lead to conversions increase.

Good use of data improves the customer experience and perception of a brand. Data allows for increased use of personalization, which builds trust. If you are suffering from a cold and you are served an ad for a cough remedy, you may treat the communication as content not disruption.

Data can be a positive for both consumers and marketers if used correctly. But just as data can be used to build trust, when improperly used it can destroy trust. Privacy violations are a real concern and can pose a threat to security.

Ethics in Advertising Data

Ethical considerations around data center on how it is collected, stored and exchanged. Consumers are aware and concerned about their data. In a recent survey, 90% of US and UK respondents stated that “being able to determine who has access to my personal data should be a basic human right.”  To retain customer trust, companies are having to rethink their use of customer data – balancing commercial goals with the need to protect their customers’ privacy.

Although consumers want personalized experiences, they don’t want organizations to know everything about them. Even more so, if they decide to give over personal information, they want to know how it will be used to their benefit. When targeting customers with messaging or personalization tactics, companies should consider how they are providing value to a consumer. Marketing teams must be incredibly transparent with how data is collected and used – giving consumers the ability to opt out of data collection.

How To Collect Advertising Data

When collecting data for marketing always keep the customer’s best interest in mind. Customer experience is the key. Any time you are collecting data ask, “what’s in it for the customer”? Consumers are more likely to volunteer their personal information if they believe they will get better deals or more value from a brand. Make it clear they will receive something useful. It may be personalized product information or “insider” information.

Be fully transparent with people when collecting their data. Always obtain your audiences’ consent. From an ethical standpoint, an individual’s data is their personal property. As a result, you have to ensure you have the right to collect and use that data. Explain why you are collecting the information. Demonstrate how the information will be used and how it will be stored. Additionally, give customers control to change their data or to delete their account.

Another consideration is your technical capabilities in this area. Are your systems secure enough or are you vulnerable to cyber-attacks. You can be held legally accountable for the loss of sensitive user data.

Data As An Advertising Tool

Good, ethical data collection can be an invaluable marketing asset. Good data assists in identifying marketing segments that perform better than others. It will inform your creative decisions. Data will tell you the kinds of ads that perform best for each market segment. Using AI, the message can be personalized for even greater impact.

Detailed intelligence enables marketers to better track brand building benefits, which are often hard to quantify. Brand awareness and loyalty are essential to long-term growth.

As marketers it is our job to find our target audience where they are most prevalent and comfortable. Knowing which channels to invest in for which audience saves time and money. Data and analytics will also inform you as to the best time to reach your prospects. Timing will make personalization that much more effective.

Data can be a powerful tool for marketers if gathered and used correctly. Today’s consumer expects their privacy to be respected. And they expect brands to protect their information. Proper data collection and maintenance can boost marketing efforts and increase customer loyalty. It pays to be ethical.