The general public is more educated and aware than ever before about data privacy. The combination of data legislation like the EU’s GDPR or Virginia’s recently-passed CDPA, and the industry’s advocacy has helped with this education, but regularly these discussions have the wrong focus.
Often, the discourse centres on what is lost through tighter data regulations. I believe that we should instead focus on what we gain through data minimisation. As advertisers and media owners, streamlining data sets and cutting through the noise can allow us to install systems to encourage safer and cleaner data collection – as well as staying ahead of the legislative curve.
Planning for sustainability
As an industry, we are often too reactive when it comes to adopting data practices. Implementing a sustainable data management plan not only makes new legislation easier to action but also affects a company’s bottom line.
Data collection is not an all-or-nothing decision. We all recognise the need to collect some data from our customers, but by taking all available data advertisers are increasing the risk of falling foul of regulations. With the loss of the cookie, advertisers are to have to fill the void with first-party data. Putting sustainable data building blocks in place, and examining the risks associated with certain data sets will allow advertisers to move forward into the post-cookie world confidently.
Re-weighing the principles of data privacy
Data minimisation needs to be the priority during discussions of privacy. There is a tendency to push it to the side when conversations about impending or existing data privacy regulations are brought to the fore, but in order for the industry to fully gain the downstream benefits of data minimalisation, it has to be our prime concern.
Frameworks such as Data Privacy By Design (DPBD) go some way to reducing data risks, but there is a pushing need to be even more proactive. Data minimisation can have a significant impact on the overall treatment of the cumulative data. Reweighing this principle to take its true importance into account will not only improve the bottom line for businesses but also improve customer experience.
Key decisions for the media owner
Data minimisation comes with some tough decisions, however – the intricacies and importance of which are not always recognised. For example, A media owner may decide not to capture a mobile ID or an individual’s personal demographics at the start – this can lead to potentially valuable information being lost. On the other hand, electing to capture as an initial matter to validate identity, but minimising following validation, can meet important needs and reduce downstream risk. Recognising where value can be gained is key to gaining greater safety while not missing out on the data you need.
Media owners should not be sitting back on their haunches; pinpointing which data is most valuable to your company now will hugely benefit your company in the future. Limiting data not only helps to avoid reactive responses to new data legislation but also reduces the cost of processing unneeded or hard-to-verify data.
Now is the time for media owners and advertisers to start asking questions of their data. Is it volume that makes it valuable, or does it deliver actionable insights? Data minimisation helps to keep ahead of the regulation curve, enabling better decisions making, and better value for customers.
Chris Hogg is EMEA MD of data and analytics platform Lotame.