Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Why adtech needs to focus on privacy-compliant personalisation

While data owners and processors are making significant investments towards technologies that help them get data, very little is being done by them today that mitigates risks while using it

Published: Jun 21, 2022 05:48:39 PM IST
Updated: Jun 22, 2022 09:22:25 AM IST

Why adtech needs to focus on privacy-compliant personalisationImage: Shutterstock

Just a few weeks back, one of the leading social media platforms agreed to pay $150 million over misuse of consumer consented data. Since the GDPR took effect in May 2018, we’ve seen over 900 fines issued across the European Economic Area (EEA). If we carefully analyze the nature of the fines, and how they could have been avoided, it broadly falls across two areas:

Get Data: Ensure that when you can accept the consent in one click, you should enable refusal in one click as well—not once but session-based with real-time control.

Use Data: Commit to protecting it well, clarify the purpose of usage and be transparent about it. Above all, never process sensitive information on health, religious belief and so on.

While data owners and processors are making significant investments towards technologies that help them get data, very little is being done by them today that mitigates risks while using it. Not just social media platforms, many brands have failed to uphold their consumer’s privacy while using their data.

Getting data is just the start—a good start that is. It is the usage that needs to be safe, secure, and transparent. It is important to note that most of the fines awarded by GDPR and FTC in the recent past are towards misusing the data and not acquiring it.

Also read: Build privacy-safe solutions: Iván Markman of Yahoo on cookie-less world

Platforms need consumer data for only one purpose. Gain better insights so that they can nurture and grow their user base. And while doing so, grow the economic value of the relationship by offering personalised experiences.

All things being equal, it is the personalisation of the user experience that differentiates one platform from the other. How can we personalise content for our consumers without using their data? How can we incentivise them to come to our platform again and again? Will they pay for our content? Should we look for sponsors (read advertisers) to manage this value exchange until we reach a critical mass? What can we offer our sponsors in return for their support? And so began the invisible contract between brands, platforms, and consumers in exchanging value with each other.

  • Give me quality content at discounted prices or for free in return for using my data
  • Give me quality reach for my brands in return for sponsoring this value exchange
  • Give me quality yield per consumer in return to produce good content

This three-way relationship between brands, platforms and consumers is the most critical part to understand in digital marketing today. Personalisation, which upholds privacy compliance, needs to recognise this three-way relationship, constantly update the purpose of using the consumer data and be transparent about it.

Also read: Seven commandments of privacy governance in information capitalist societies

This means that not just the platform, but the brand that is exchanging value with the platform needs to jointly work together in managing consent and permissions. Systems of engagement need to re-architect their technologies to be able to do this. While data encryption is already becoming table stakes, advertising technologies will quickly need to ensure that the efforts towards personalisation do not explicitly trace it back to the consumer during the engagement.
There are very many approaches towards the same, but the jury is still out on which one succeeds.

Gowthaman Ragothaman is the co-founder and CEO of Aqilliz. Views expressed are personal.

Note to readers: Storyboard18’s new Month In Focus initiative spotlights themes and topics that are pushing marketers to reshape and rethink how brands interact with today’s customers. Our theme for this month is Stacks & Strategies, a martech and adtech spotlight on how decision-makers and marketers are advancing the adoption of new technologies and tech-driven strategies in the brand marketing ecosystem. From the defining trends and preparing for a cookiepocalypse to how progressive martech strategies help fast-track business and brand growth. Catch this special on Storyboard18