June 8, 2011
Rachael Morris is an Account Analyst at Infectious Media working on campaigns for clients in the telecommunications, technology, retail and travel sectors. In her day-to-day role, Rachael analyses large amounts of data and ensures campaigns meet their targets. Here she discusses issues around data privacy, recently brought into focus by the EU ePrivacy directive.
Images of Big Brother spring easily into the minds of a generation brought up on endless dystopia novels. We feel surrounded by governments whose desire to know all about their people is exceeded only by their fiendish organisation and ability to sift through reams of data almost instantaneously. Stories of leaked data abound*, growing ever more worrying as we realise just how much information we routinely put out into the world. And, much as we might like to say otherwise, this isn’t entirely unjustified: 90% of people have shared information with at least one site**. There is a lot of information out there about all of us. On the other hand, the sheer volume of data floating around is one of the very things that makes this sort of nightmare scenario so unlikely – the difficulty already involved in getting meaningful information about any given individual is only increased by the amount of noise that is now out there. Equally important is the fact that none of the information being made available is personally identifiable. It sounds like a small point, but the difference between the knowledge that Susie Johnstone was recently looking at flights to Italy and bought a bikini and the knowledge that computer 856076815463 did the same is huge.
Interestingly, the more people know about how the information about them is collected and what it is used for, the happier they are about it – after hearing details about behavioural advertising, 74% of consumers felt more comfortable with their data being used**. This kind of data and the ability to tailor the advertising served to someone’s needs and wants is what differentiates digital advertising from other forms, so it is vital that we reach some kind of consensus on what is and isn’t acceptable. The only way to do this is going to be opening a dialogue with consumers, asking their opinions and ascertaining exactly where their limits lie as well as making as much information as possible freely and easily available. Until consumers feel comfortable with the information we hold about them and how it is used, we will not be able to move forward and exploit the full potential of online advertising.
The recent EU ePrivacy directive heralds a change in the industry’s attitude to privacy. The requirement to obtain informed consent for all non-essential cookies will force advertisers into clear disclosure of the implications of a visit to their website. The difficulty lies in striking the appropriate balance – we do not want to adhere to the regulations at the expense of user experience. Over the next year, we will all need to work to reach a consensus on acceptable forms of consent, which best achieve this balance. As members of the IAB, Infectious Media is actively involved in policy development and best practice data usage in advertising, and we see this as a real opportunity for positive change.
** Statistics from IAB’s September 2009 study, in partnership with Olswang.
June 9, 2009
As technology and data shape the next wave of digital media buying, the need to approach the entire process from a statistical mindset is growing in importance. In the not too distant future it won’t be surprising for a day in the life of a digital media buyer (or trader should I say?!) working on a response brief at a typical agency to involve monitoring campaigns on multiple trading systems whilst working with a team of analysts, crunching campaign data using analysis packages such as R.
Google Chief Economist Hal Varian in an interview for The McKinsey Quarterly earlier in the year mentioned that statisticians will be the sexy job in the next ten years and with Numbers pulling in prime time audiences on TV it certainly seems that he’s not too far from the truth. This could happen a lot faster in the quickly evolving media buying industry and gazing into a crystal ball reveals that skill sets will also need to also evolve to keep pace with the technology infrastructure that is powering the industry. Gone will be the Head of Trading whose lunch ability knows no bounds to be replaced by the Head of Data whose skill and value will be in interpreting the vast amounts of data that agencies will be generating through their trading platforms, and developing meaningful insights from this. Think of it as being more Wall Street (minus the suits of course!) than Mad Men. All in all, a combination not just of statistical techniques but also marketing know-how will be an integral part of the new agency product. It doesn’t take a huge amount of insight to spot the increasing importance of data but what does it mean on a practical level for your average digital media agency? Using statistical techniques to help analyse and optimise campaigns has multiple benefits ranging from improved ROI for advertisers through to greater operational efficiency for media agencies. In short it’s in everyones interest.
Infectious, as a ‘new breed’ agency has been built around this core belief. Our underlying infrastructure, skillsets and services are designed to get the most from this new world. It will be interesting to see how quickly the wider agency community embraces this shift.