Tag Archives: data

Data trading is outmoded and no longer fit for purpose

We live in a complicated world.

In the old days, clients wanted to do mailings. They spoke to their agencies to create a shiny responsive mail piece. The agency then spoke to their list broker. They then spoke to various list managers, and list managers spoke to list owners. The data was then ordered and supplied to bureau on magnetic tapes, who under took a merge/purge. The price of the data was agreed upfront, with the list owner setting the minimum amount they were prepared to sell the data for.

Data had a value that was very evident.

In the days of Cheshire labels and magnetic tapes access to data was limited. The list owner held all the cards and the barriers to market were many. Rules of engagement were clear: data was a precious commodity with a significant value. Misuse it at your peril, because there is a clear trail to the use of the data, as well as its original source.

Fast forward 20 years… and what does the industry now look like?

The nice linear buying process is fractured.

Mailers are buying directly from data owners (who are no longer list owners). Data owners may have the same data with a number of list managers. There has been an increase in the number of compiled data sets – so less transparency around the provenance of the original data. Data no longer relates just to a name and address, but also landline, mobile number, email address etc. Data is downloaded from FTP sites and bureaux add value to the merge/purge process (resulting in ‘cleaner’ data). Data costs are heavily negotiated before ordering and there is an increasing trend towards credits being requested once the campaign has gone.

The protocols around how data is traded however has not taken any of this into account.

The industry previously could self-regulate itself. Data was held on mainframes and was supplied on labels (either Cheshire / self-adhesives) or on magnetic tapes. Data was couriered from list supplier to bureau with signatures for each part of the process. When delivered, it was held in walk-in a safe.

Today, data is held on a variety of different platforms and sent in a variety of secure and unsecure methods. As a result, data is no longer a commodity that is difficult to come by. Millions of records can be easily downloaded from unsecure websites for a few hundred pounds, thereby creating a shift in the buying paradigm.

List owners previously held the power, as they controlled a scarce commodity. Now it is the mailer, as information is so freely available. A mailer’s expectation as to what they feel they should be paying for and what the data owner believes they should be paying for, is often worlds apart.

For example if ‘J Brown, 1 Love Lane, London’ is a record showing as deceased on an industry suppression file and you find a Mr J Brown at the same address on a mailing file, is this the same person? What if you find a Julie Brown at the same address? Or even, what do you do if you have an Anne Smith in a household where a J Brown lives, do you mail the person or suppress?

Every mailer will have their own view as to what to do and will be looking for credits from the data owner if the percentage of these kinds of suppressions is high. In which case ought the data owner credit?

The bottom line is that the mailer is paying for names that are not used and paying to have ‘incorrect/inaccurate’ names suppressed.

So, is it time to get away from cost per thousand rates for names supplied? And if so, what could it be? A cost per thousand rate for names mailed – a clear winner with the mailer, but I would suspect this would be unpopular with the data owners. Or would it be a fixed fee? So that no matter how many names were ordered or used, the mailer would pay a one-off fee, for the agreed data usage.

Or do we just say “It is what it is!”?

By DMA Guest Blogger Suzanne Lewis, Managing Director, EDMMEDIA and member of the DMA Data Council

Data privacy is now a “critical brand differentiator”

Data privacy is now a “critical brand differentiator” for businesses looking to acquire new customers, with consumers’ decision to share information driven by the use of trusted channels and transparency, new DMA research has revealed.

According to the findings of the Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014, 43 per cent of consumers prefer email as their most trusted channels for sharing information, closely followed by 42 per cent who rated brands’ own website as their favoured route. More than four in five (85 per cent) now will only share their information if it’s made clear that it will be used only by the company that collects it; 32 per cent say they expect a clearly worded privacy policy before they share.

The findings follow remarks made by deputy Information Commissioner David Smith, who earlier this month told delegates at the DMA’s annual data summit that brands which make “a feature of [their] privacy approach” and are “getting in tune” with customers are to be admired.

The report also found that only one in two UK consumers (52%) claim to have willingly shared their personal information with a company in the past 12 months, in spite of marketers saying more than half of their budgets (59 per cent) is being dedicated to customer acquisition activities – compared to just 20 per cent on retention.

While email and brands’ website dominate in the trust stakes, social is failing to win consumers’ approval – despite marketers’ commitment to it. Four in five (77 per cent) of marketers said they use it for acquisition purposes, but only 16 per cent rate it as ‘effective’. This is perhaps because 54 per cent of consumers rate it as their least trusted channel for sharing their information.

The report, which was produced by DMA in partnership with McDowall, surveyed 1,509 UK consumers and interviewed 116 senior marketers as the first annual benchmark of current trends in and critical issues brands face in acquiring new customers.

The DMA’s executive director Chris Combemale says that marketers must quickly adapt to the new expectations of consumers:

“Effective customer acquisition relies on trust and transparency which is undermined by some companies, organisations and institutions misusing, abusing and exploiting people’s information against their expectations and wishes.

“The most successful companies are respecting their customer’s attitudes to privacy and making trust a critical brand differentiator.”

The report also reveals that marketers are anticipating a shift in focus on their performance targets. Currently, 41 per cent report cost-per-acquisition as their primary measurement, compared to 37 per cent on quality of leads and 21 per cent on quantity of leads. However, over the next 12 months 35 per cent of marketers expect quantity of leads will rise to become their number one target.

Read the Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014 report

Read the Customer Acquisition Barometer 2014 infographic

By Tristan Garrick, the DMA’s Head of PR & Content

ICO and UK mobile operators unite to fight spam text

Spam texts from rogue companies continue to annoy and distress millions of people so the news today that the major UK mobile operators are working with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to share real-time information about spam attacks is good news for consumers and all responsible mobile marketers.

For the first time, the ICO will receive real-time information about spam attacks from EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to help the regulator quickly identify breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and issue monetary penalties.

The piece of software that allows them to identify spam texts, the GSMA Spam Reporting Service (SRS), has been around for a while but this new cooperation will enable networks and the regulator to share intelligence in real time to catch the perpetrators and ensure that an attack on one network can be isolated and prevented on others.

For those of you unfamiliar with how SRS works, mobile phone users are able to report spam text messages by forwarding it to their mobile operator using a free short code: ’7726′ or ‘SPAM’. Mobile operators can then use this insight to block senders of spam.

I’m also encouraged to hear that EE, O2, Three, Vodafone and the ICO are looking at ways to extend their use of SRS to address nuisance calls. Working with the regulator to tackle the activities of rogue companies that operate outside of the law will protect responsible marketers who always put the customer first in everything they do.

By Mike Lordan, Chief of Operations, DMA

Marketers beware of public flogging for data misuse

“Don’t piss off your customers or else all your complex explanations will go out the window,” the deputy Information Commissioner David Smith warned the UK marketing industry at the DMA’s annual data conference on Friday 7 March (Data protection 2014).

Forget the fines from the regulators for data misuse, it’s the public flogging that will get you in the end through sites such as Breach Watch.  Just because it’s legal it doesn’t make it right.

The NHS and care data is a case in point, where fear and confusion among the good old British public has forced the NHS to delay the scheme. When people are suspicious, truth goes out the window too.
And let’s not forget that data security is a big worry for people these days in the wake of the Snowden scandal. So why is that so many companies don’t even know they’ve had a breach until months after it’s occurred?

Speaking at Friday’s conference Opt-4 directors Rosemary Smith and Jenny Moseley, revealed that 66% of breaches took months or years to discover and 9% of data breaches were spotted by customers.

With more control for individuals and a move towards explicit consent in the EU data reforms, marketers will need to be more open about their practices. That’s why while the draft Regulation makes its way through the European Parliament, Smith is calling on UK businesses to ensure they’re ready for the changes by complying with the current legislation.

Watch 3 short clips from Data protection 2014

Deputy Information Commissioner, David Smith, on the biggest data challenges facing marketers today.

Rosemary Smith, co-director of Opt-4, on why many UK companies are walking into a data disaster.

Jenny Moseley, co-director of Opt-4, with 3 tips on how to avoid a data disaster.
By Smarayda Christoforou, Copywriter, the DMA

Why EU data reforms will make us better marketers 

EU data reforms will help us be better marketers

You might as well be talking to a goldfish… these are challenging times for marketers. The average attention span of consumers is eight seconds and they’re pickier than ever about who and what they want to give their attention (and data) to. Add to that the draft Data Protection Regulation, which could make marketing virtually impossible, and the future looks bleak. Or does it?

Nick Banbury, data strategy partner, Tangible, says we should embrace EU data protection reform as it’s going to force us to be better marketers.

Speaking at the DMA’s annual data summit Data protection 2014 on Friday 7 March 2014, Nick calls on brands to be ‘sexier’, more interesting and relevant and to stop bombarding customers with messages that they think are important.

It’s the only way brands will gain trust from people, a big issue for governments and citizens after the NSA spying scandal and our ‘summer of Snowden’. Rightly or wrongly, people are jittery about the security of their data and how it’s used.

Marketers need to help the public see the difference between data and privacy, and ensure they know how and why their data is being collected and how it will benefit them. The key is gaining trust and demonstrating a genuine value exchange.

It’s not just the data we share, we’re dropping tons of data as we go about our everyday life through our smartphones about where we’re going and what we’re doing. Again, consumers need to be educated about the value exchange rather than the feeling of being tracked Big Brother style. This data can be a force for good, says Matthew Bayfield, head of data practice at OgilvyOne, (the final speaker at Data protection 2014).

Data from the fitness and diet apps that we’re using on our smartphones is being analysed to help predict the likelihood of a person being at risk of a heart attack or type II diabetes for instance. I for one welcome that use of data – it could save my life one day.

How will you persuade consumers to share their data with your business?

By Smarayda Christoforou, Copywriter, DMA

Watch two short clips from Data protection 2014
Nick Banbury data strategy partner, Tangible, urges us to embrace the EU data protection reforms.
Matthew Bayfield head of data practice at OgilvyOne, looks at the future of data for consumers.

ICO quietly updates electronic comms guide

In September 2013 the Information Commissioner’s Office published Direct Marketing Guidance (“DM Guidance”). There were aspects of this which caused the industry some concern.

These included an indication that, however clearly worded and explicitly consented to, a general opt-in to receive unsolicited third party marketing emails was too broad to be relied on.

There was also a suggestion that, as a rule of thumb, even where such “third party consent” was specific enough, third parties would lose the right to make use of that consent if they left it more than six months after the consent was given before getting in touch.
After six months, ICO reasoned, it would cease to be the consent “for the time being” required for unsolicited direct marketing emails or texts by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR).

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has queried these and a number of other passages in the DM Guidance and its discussions with ICO are ongoing.

In the meantime, however, and without any major announcement, the ICO has made consequential changes to its well-established Guide to Privacy and Electronic Communications (“PEC Guide”).

Changes to PEC Guide not shown
No mark-up showing the changes was made available, but we have done a comparison of the old and new passages relevant to the two points above and the results are of interest.

First, in the section of the PEC Guide dealing with the interpretation of the phrase “for the time being” as in the “consent for the time being” required for unsolicited marketing emails or texts, ICO has deleted:

“We interpret this to mean that until there is good reason to consider it no longer valid; for example, if it has been withdrawn or it is otherwise clear that the recipient no longer wishes to get such messages, the initial consent will remain valid if there are good grounds to believe that the recipient remains happy to get the marketing communications in question; for example, where the recipient has responded positively (that it has not objected to) to previous, reasonably recent marketing emails.”

In its place has been inserted:
“[consent for the time being] will remain valid as long as it is still reasonable to treat it as an ongoing indication of the person’s current wishes.

There is no fixed time limit after which consent automatically expires. However, someone can withdraw consent at any time-for example, by opting out, unsubscribing, or making a complaint. And even if consent is not withdrawn, it will become less reliable as time passes.”

What do we make of this change?

Need for “good grounds” changed to “is it reasonable”?
Before there needed to be “good grounds” for believing consent was still valid. Now the test is whether it is “reasonable” to treat the consent as ongoing. This suggests a slight softening in ICO’s approach.

Also, in contrast to the 6 month shelf life suggested for third party consent in the DM Guidance, which was the first time ICO had posited a specific period in such a context, the PEC Guide now says that there is “no fixed time limit” after which consent automatically expires.

Again, although the PEC Guide repeatedly states “see our guidance on direct marketing for more information,” it seems as if ICO is rowing back a little from the controversial suggestion on this point in the DM Guidance.

Third party mailing list changes
More changes are made in the “Third-party electronic mailing lists” section of the PEC Guide.
Before the PEC Guide stated:

“[the PCRs] do not expressly rule out obtaining consent through a third party. However if you are buying or renting a list from a broker, you will need to seek assurances from them about the basis on which the information was collected.

It is difficult to see how a third party list can be complied and used legitimately except where the individual subscriber expressly invites (solicits) marketing by electronic mail. This is because you may only send unsolicited marketing to an individual subscriber who has “previously notified the sender that they consent for the time being to such communications being sent, by or at the instigation of the sender.”

Arguably you may obtain a person’s consent through a third party, but a lot will depend on the clarity and transparency of the information that third party gave the intended recipient when it collected their contact details.”

The above has now been replaced by the following:
“You need to be very careful when relying on indirect consent originally obtained by someone else. This is because the [PCRs] require that the customer has notified you that they consent to your messages. On a strict interpretation, indirect consent would not meet this test-as the customer did not directly notify you, they notified someone else. So it is best practice to only send marketing texts or emails if you obtained consent directly from that person.

However, we do accept that indirect consent might be valid in some circumstances, if it is clear and specific enough. In essence the customer must have anticipated that their details would be passed to you and that they were consenting to messages from you. This will depend on exactly what they were told when consent was obtained. For more information on indirect consent, see our guidance on direct marketing.”

The principal points made in both passages are the same, although it is interesting that “subscriber” has been changed to “customer” in a context where, almost by definition, the recipient of the communications has yet to become one. “Customer” might be more appropriate in the context of “customer soft opt-in” where contact details are obtained in the course of negotiations for a sale, but use of the term here seems more questionable.
Useful litmus test for third party consent wording?

The one significant difference, however, is the addition of the requirement that the “customer must have anticipated that their details would be passed to you and that they were consenting to messages from you.”

A useful further litmus test, maybe, to apply when drafting third party consent wording.
The point about clarity of disclosures made when obtaining consent is underlined in changes to the next section headed “If we buy in or rent a list, can we use it?” but query are the changes fully in line with the controversial pronouncements on third party consent in the DM Guidance?

Instead of the previous
“if you wish to buy in or rent a list from a third party, you may only use it if the intended recipient has actively consented to receiving unsolicited emails from third parties.”
We now have
“You should take extra care if you are using a bought-in list to send marketing texts or emails..You must have very specific consent for this type of marketing, and indirect consent (i.e. generic consent originally given to another organisation) will not always be enough.”

“Will not always be enough” is, the writer would suggest, a marked retreat from the clear (and much criticised) indication in the DM Guidance that far from “not always being enough,” generic third party consent was unlikely to cut the mustard except in exceptional cases.

Why this matters:
ICO’s September 2013 Direct Marketing Guidance signalled a much stricter approach to direct marketing consent.

The change clearly required consequential updates to its Privacy and Electronic Communications Guide, but it is interesting firstly that these amendments have been made with little publicity (although the DM Guidance did indicate in passing that changes would be made) and secondly that on two significant points where the DMA has pushed back on behalf of the industry, the changes appear to stop short of the strict position taken in the DM Guidance.

Perhaps the DMA’s lobbying has already borne fruit, depending of course on which takes precedence, the Guide or the Guidance.

By DMA guest blogger Stephen Groom, Co-chair of Advertising & Marketing Group and Deputy Chair of Privacy and Data Law Group, Osborne Clarke

This blog first appeared on the Marketing Law website. 

Why the latest Gmail Unsubscribe changes are good for marketers

The guys at Google have been busy implementing changes to the Gmail interface again, this time with an alteration to how users unsubscribe from unwanted communications.

What’s new?
Google has simplified the unsubscribe process with the addition of a new button. The link automatically appears beside sender details in the header of emails that Google detects may be email marketing communications.

The change was announced last week at an industry conference in San Francisco held by MAAWG, an anti-abuse messaging group – and rolled out thereafter. The button allows users to unsubscribe from unwanted emails without leaving Gmail. Clicking on the link won’t direct you through to the marketer’s unsubscribe process; instead Google will contact the marketer directly to request that they remove you from future mailings.



The change is a development on the 2009 feature which would offer users an unsubscribe button, but only after they had reported an email as spam. The button is now available for most promotional messages that already feature an unsubscribe link in the body of the email.
At the moment, the change hasn’t filtered through to Gmail users on the mobile site or the Gmail app, but as these sites are increasingly being used by Gmail subscribers I would expect these changes to come in time.

What’s in it for marketers?
Quite a lot actually, it’s widely recognised that email marketers should make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe from communications. If the process is difficult, it’s likely your recipients will become frustrated and treat your email communications (that they previously opted in to receiving) the same way they treat true spam – by clicking the “report spam” button. Long term this can have a detrimental effect on your delivery rate.

The button provides your recipient with greater control over what they receive and as it simplifies the unsubscribe process; it reduces the likelihood of your emails being falsely classified as spam.
In a more general sense, you don’t want recipients on your mailing list who don’t want to be there. Allowing them to leave easily, without a fuss is only going to have a positive effect on your campaigns.

How should we react?

1. Deliver value to your subscribers, constantly
Aim to ensure you always meet your recipients’ expectations and deliver them the value you promised when they signed up. No one ever unsubscribed from an email that was valuable to them! Most subscribers will forgive you the occasional email that misses the mark, but set your standards high and aim to deliver value constantly.

2. Maintain a good quality mailing list
Always review and cleanse your data to ensure you’re sending to the most relevant people who are expecting to receive your emails. If you have a large number of inactive subscribers, carry out a re-engagement campaign to tidy up your data set and talk to those subscribers who haven’t interacted with you for a while less frequently.

3. Send targeted, relevant communications
Collect preferences in order to personalise your communications to individual recipients. Include engaging subject and super subject lines and clear calls to action.

4. Test
Research how often your subscribers want to hear from you. It’s easy to test and will ensure they are getting the emails as frequently as they want to. Remember it is possible to be sending them to few emails as well as too many.

5. Be responsive
The number of emails read on mobile devices is continuously increasing so it’s important to ensure you’re providing your recipients with the best possible experience for the device they’re viewing your email on. Utilising a responsive email design will ensure your emails work equally well for Gmail subscribers on desktop and mobile devices.

Overall, this new update can only be good news for email marketers. The fact that Google is working with legitimate senders, holds benefits for both email marketers and more importantly, our recipients.

 By DMA guest blogger James Bunting, Co-founder, Communicator Corp

Data is the future… right?

Generation Y are the consumers of the future and they’re not scared of technology. I see the level of value that some of the younger ones place on their personal data being little more than the value they place on pizza and general consumables. They are prepared to share their innermost feelings on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram, they Snapchat images (some of which they may live to regret) and give away their preferences in a value exchange which seems to be out of kilter. The pressure to conform, share and be connected seems to grow exponentially year on year.

And yet the pressure to stop companies from using this data for marketing purposes continues to gather pace.  This seems to be at odds with consumer behaviour and their willingness to share everything in exchange for a better experience online and offline.

I know from the clients we have, there is a massive desire to predict behaviour across a number of spectrums and understand who this “invisible customer” is. Without the ability to capture certain key data in real time around identity, shopping habits, likes, preferences, identity and credit risk as a basic minimum, we are in danger of ruining the customer experience and losing trust – ironically by not being able to collect enough data!

I recently read an article from Forbes in the US (where privacy laws are constantly being debated as a key issue for them to wrestle with) around a world without data and how this would affect the individual experience.  While the majority of the analysis was simple in it content, the context was interesting and I feel compelled to share this with you.

Here is some of the commentary from this article which made me even more excited about the power of data should common sense prevail:

1.  Viewing habits
So LG Electronics snooped on their customers’ viewing data.  Big deal.  There are a zillion shows on TV and most of them are pretty bad. I do not want to waste my limited time watching Duck Dynasty.  I prefer to get suggestions. That’s why I keep renewing my TIVO service every year.  The more they know about me the better viewing experience I have. So you can snoop on my viewing habits. It’s fine.

2.  Targeted ads
I hate those ads where people are buying new Lexus’ for their family members as Christmas gifts.  Who does this?  Not me.  And probably not 99.99% of the rest of the country.  So please don’t show me that ad.  Find out what you want about me and only show me ads for stuff that I’m really interested in.  Like beer.  And cuddly stuffed animals (oops…maybe that was a little too private).  And if you’re going to put on a car ad keep it at the Honda level, OK?

3. Advice and suggestions
I love it when I buy a book from Amazon and they suggest other books like it.  I love it when I plan a trip to Chicago and Expedia emails me suggestions for places to eat.  Here’s my social security number – just give me more suggestions like that.  Like my TV viewing, my purchasing patterns can also be predicted.  And I could
always use more help there.

4.  More productivity
Many people are concerned when their internet browser asks if you’d like to “save” your credit card info that you just entered so that it can be used in the future. God only knows where that information is being “saved.” But I don’t care about that either.  When I buy stuff online, which I do frequently, I want the process to be as quick and painless as possible.  And please don’t give me that story about how insecure my credit card info is – wasn’t that you who blindly gave your credit card to that heroin-addict-waiter on Saturday night after your meal?  Ever wonder why he took so long coming back with the receipt?

5.  Security against our enemies
Yes, the NSA is snooping.  Yes, they have access to millions of emails, phone records and text messages.  Go ahead NSA, I dare you to read mine.  You’ll be just as bored as you are reading this blog right now.  But if you need that data in order to root out potential terrorists in this age of big data then you have my permission.

6.  Potential saving of my life
President Obama made electronic health records a priority of his administration just a few years ago and the growth of this technology has been explosive.  Now pretty much any doctor in the country with a half-baked reason can find out about that gross wart you have on the inside of your left thigh.  But the upside:  instantaneous medical attention based on the most up to date data if there’s ever an emergency and wherever you are.

7.  Growth for my own business
As Chris Lynch, a venture capital investor in big data technologies describes it, the future of business is bright when more big data is available: “How about mapping your point of sale data to weather data so you can determine how many staff you need in your store on a sunny day?” he said to me. “How about anticipating your supply chain needs based on your customer demand next Autumn?  It’s not about the data inside your company.  It’s about the data you can access about your customers outside.”

8.  New friends
The more I share on social media, the more people can find me.  Of course this has its downsides.  But I’ve been able to connect with old friends from high school and make new friends (and get new customers) because of our shared interests, both personal and professional.

9.  Faster travel
Ever had the delicious experience of skirting the lines of screaming kids at the Orlando International Airport because you’re eligible to go through TSA Pre-check? .  And it’ll make you want to share any information about yourself with the government just to repeat the experience.  Because I travel to the UK a few times a year I’m signing up for the Global Entry service too.  We are talking about hours and hours saved in exchange for, at least in my case, meaningless data.

10.  Easier payment
I no longer carry cash.  And soon I expect I will no longer be carrying credit cards either.  With advances made by companies like PayPal, Apple, Square and others my restaurant and retail experience will be quicker and easier because I will be able to pay with a nod to the cashier or a quick fingerprint as I walk out the door.  More time saved.  More business (and marketing info) for the business owner.  It’s a win-win.

So take my data.  It’s fine.  And it’s really not that interesting.  I realize that even if I opt-in (which should always be required) it’s still not entirely secure or private.  I’ll take the risk.  The benefits are just too significant to ignore.

Courtesy of Gene Marks  – Contributor Forbes Online

By DMA guest blogger Chris McDonald, Managing Director, Callcredit Marketing Solutions