NCDM Panel Explores Threats to the Data-Driven Way of Life
December 5, 2012 — Yesterday, at the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) NCDM Conference in Orlando, Florida, Linda A. Woolley, DMA’s acting president and CEO, led a panel of experts in a discussion of the current threats to the responsible collection of consumer data. Panelists included Tony Hadley, senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, Experian; Susan Fox, vice president, government relations, The Walt Disney Company; and Brooks Dobbs, CPO, KBM Group.
Woolley emphasized the many benefits that consumers derive from the responsible use of Big Data. Consumers, she noted, have come to expect the ease, flexibility, and efficiency it brings. “It thrills and delights consumers to get what they want when they want it,” she said. “The reason it can happen is because of consumer data and the ability to use it in a way that is targeted and focused.”
Regulators want to put an end to the collection and use of consumer data.
“What if all data driven marketing and fundraising were to stop?” asked Woolley. “Threats are growing in Washington and around the globe. Regulators want to put an end to the collection and use of consumer data. The threat is very serious and unprecedented, right here and right now.”
“The threat is real, it’s global,” said Hadley. “We see the debate sloshing up and down our shores in the US. In Europe, they have a stricter regime around this. In Asia, there is not a formalized system yet. In the US, we have a flexible system . . . it’s my goal, and we need your help, to keep it that way.”
“What’s at stake . . . is measurability,” said Dobbs, adding that marketers use performance-based metrics to better determine how consumers will act after they make a purchase. If marketers were to lose this degree of measurability, it would “hurt the entire ecosystem,” he said.
Education is Key
Panelists agreed that getting the public to understand Big Data’s benefits and how marketers actually use that data, is key to dispelling the myths that abound today.
“We must constantly remind consumers that there is so much free content on the Internet,” Woolley emphasized. “People have access to unbelievable libraries and sources of information — and it’s remarkable that a poor child in Kenya, for example, can access the Internet in a way we never would have thought possible. This is possible because of the economic model of the Internet – and that is possible because we have advertising and targeted marketing.”
Fox noted that getting the word out about responsible data-use is key to building trust. “Living in a space where we serve kids, it’s paramount for us that moms and dads, grandparents, and aunts and uncles feel good about our brand. We always want them to cherish that relationship and that the relationship be trusted.” “We’ve got to continue to be vigilant about telling consumers about what we do . . . and be willing to engage in public environment,” she went on to say.
Woolley pointed out that DMA’s Data Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI) is dedicated to advancing and protecting data-driven marketing by engaging the entire industry in a coordinated campaign to set the record straight about the countless ways that data-driven marketing benefits consumers and fuels the data-driven economy.
Dobbs stressed the importance of taking action, and getting consumers and marketers involved. “[It’s important to get] people involved in these processes early — looking at the threats right now and understand them, and engaging where possible,” he said. “DMA is perfectly situated to direct you in the right direction to contribute.”
“The main idea behind DDMI is to set the record straight about what our industry does and to dispel the misconceptions,” Woolley said. “We are being painted as very evil people who are doing bad things with personal data and disadvantaging consumers when nothing is farther from the truth. We need to get the message out there.
“Go to the [DDMI] website,” she said. “When you go there, you will see the opportunity to take the pledge. I encourage you to take the pledge. Say you are committed to protect data driven marketing. I strongly encourage you to do that.”
For more information on DDMI, visit www.the-dma.org/ddmi.
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About Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the world’s largest trade association dedicated to advancing and protecting responsible data-driven marketing. Founded in 1917, DMA represents thousands of companies and nonprofit organizations that use and support data-driven marketing practices and techniques.
In 2012, marketers — commercial and nonprofit —will spend $168.5 billion on direct marketing, which accounts for 52.7 percent of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures will generate approximately $2.05 trillion in incremental sales. In 2012, direct marketing accounts for 8.7 percent of total US gross domestic product and produces1.3 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly support 7.9 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.2 million US jobs.
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