Keeping on top of technology, privacy and regulatory changes is a challenge, as the speed of development is faster than ever, but brands that put data safety as a focus will get ahead of the competition.
Two of the key terms that brands should start to understand are ‘data safety’, which is an extension of a well-known industry term ‘brand safety’ but applied to data. Brands are in danger of coming under fire from their own customers if they aren’t using data appropriately, and it could end up in reputational damage. Within this topic is the concept of ‘toxic data’, which is data that can be used that has not had consent explicitly given by the person who owns it.
This is according to Niall Hogan, managing director, Southeast Asia at Ogury, who introduced this topic during a panel at The Drum Digital Summit last month. Hogan explains why there are parallels with the topic of brand safety when it comes to data usage.
“Both brand and data safety are about trying to protect the brand. As an industry, we're very familiar with brand safety, which is all about protecting a brand when it is advertising online. It's about making sure that the advert is placed into the right environment or an environment that isn't going to damage the brand or its reputation. Data safety is also about protecting the brand. By ensuring that brands are not using toxic data, which could result in legal fines or reputational damage, you can protect the brand and keep the trust of consumers. A lot of companies that have used or misused data have found themselves on the front page of national newspapers, for example,” he says.
Hogan was joined on the panel by Prudential Thailand chief brand officer, Siva Jayaraj and Xaxis APAC vice president of partnerships and investment, Colleen Ngo. Both agreed that this had to be a focus for brands, particularly as many brands seek to use data in smarter and more creative ways.
One challenge that Prudential’s Jayaraj presented was the balance of gaining consent and maintaining a good user experience. Jayaraj also believes that the usage of our data is somewhat of an inevitability in using the internet and online services, but that technology and strategy has a place in ensuring some ethics and standards are in place.
“There will be no brand in the world that doesn't use data. Coming from an insurer, we are very, very protective of our customer data because it is almost the bedrock of our business. So we adhere very strictly to things like GDPR or PDPA in Singapore and all the brand standards,” he explains.
“When it comes to data security, I think the word security is out the window, it's going to happen. Regardless whether we want to stop it, using GDPR or PDPA or not, it's going to come to a point where everybody's data will be available somehow. The question is, how are we going to have a little bit of control? And can we have a little bit of ethics behind all this?” he questions.
The panel agreed that there was an education gap, both at the consumer level that could be solved with more education about data even from a young age, but also at the marketer level. Ngo says that agencies play a major role in educating brands and need to step into this role if they aren’t already.
“Agencies today need to really step up their game and not just come in as the activation or planning layer. They need to leverage the influence they have with tech partners and connections and use that to share the evolving landscape and better advise clients,” she says.
“As an agency, we need to make sure that the partners that we work with are also reputable and also adhere to the safe data practices. We need to ensure that they are held accountable, just as much as we would hold ourselves accountable. That extension becomes very important because once there's a break in the chain, not only are you going to be risking your own agency profile but also the brands that you represent,” she says.
To hear the full panel discuss the ways that brands and agencies can move forward with data safety, view the session as a catch-up on The Drum Digital Summit website.