Now is the right time to build trust in data

Josh Gallagher and Minsun Collier
By Josh Gallagher and Minsun Collier | 29 April 2020

Josh Gallagher is chief product officer, APAC and Minsun Collier is national head of digital at MediaCom.

In the coming months, many people around the globe are going to be faced with a very tough decision around the benefits of health tracing. It is not likely a tough decision. Predictive health benefits such as individual early diagnosis is a well documented benefit, or as Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minster has mentioned in reference to the introduction of a trace app in Australia, “If you download this app, you’ll be helping save someone’s life”. It seems, it has become emotionally urgent.

The notion of tracking someone’s health through personal devices is not a new concept. Look at any marketing trend document over the last decade and ‘Wearable Tech’ will be on the radar. But has it really taken off?

In the US, up to 80% of people have said that they are willing to wear wearable tech while the penetration of the technology is only at 20%.

We are, however, living in a moment in time where the decision between want and need becomes a more blurred. Better contact tracing of COVID-19 through technology has been seen to have great community benefit.

To get to the beneficial scale required, however, there needs to be a big swing in opinion. A recent study in to ‘Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing’ by GroupM has indicated that 55% of Australian consumers are already concerned over data privacy and a further 24% are not sure yet.

Privacy has never been an immediate issue in Wearable Tech because it has always been a more considered, personal decision and the data involved has never been scaled and created aggregated learnings. And it has never got in to the hands of brands looking to use it to wield undue influence.

What if now is the time to make an example of how to build trust with data?

Only measure what is relevant
As Hans Rosling mentioned in his book, Factfulness, “If something is urgent and important, it should be measured. [However,] beware of data that is relevant but inaccurate, or accurate but irrelevant.”

Our urgency to collect data often has us capture everything, in the hope that is gives us something.This ‘Tall Walls’ strategy often leads to a reduced amount of trust in the use of data because what is captured and used is often irrelevant.41% of consumers, in the recent GroupM survey, say they are less willing to buy products if their data was used to deliver personalized ads.

As with the approach to Tracing Apps, focus on the critical requirements only. The mass of all user’s personal information is less important (and changes more often) than the networked interaction between users.

Offer benefits to data collection
Closing the consumer data trust gap can be as simple as getting something in exchange for sharing data. Retargeting and ‘personalisation’ rarely seems like a fair value exchange.

Australian consumers don’t see the benefits with only 18% believe that sharing their data leads to improvements in products and services.

Trust needs to be built beyond advertising. While the improved health benefits are clear in related apps, consumer brands need to take this on board. Canon USA, for instance, has created the opportunity for their photographs to be used in advertising in exchange for sharing their data.

Build trust through platforms
As governments and companies encourage consumers to entrust them with their data, according to PwC, only half include proactive management of the privacy risks in their digital plans from the start.

We must have the right frameworks, partners and technology to ensure that brands only appear in environments appropriate to them. Six in ten consumers are less inclined to use a product if data is used for any purpose.

From the inception of an approach to data collection, work with platforms to ensure there is a clear view of all tracking being deployed on their digital properties, enabling them to describe activity succinctly and clearly in privacy notices.

So, unlike the COVID-19 situation, it is rarely now or never.

It seems that there has never been a better time, to reset our thinking around the use of data.For brands, step-by-step practical improvements, and clear evaluation of the impact, are less dramatic ‘transformations’, but more effective.

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