It took over three decades for 90% of Americans to start buckling up, from only 14% in 1984. In the digital marketing world we don't have all that time to adopt such safety protections. Data protection is a sorely needed service, and it can't wait, says Lung Huang, Head of Growth Solutions for Mars Petcare.
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As modern marketers, we’ve seen our fair share of change in our industry. It used to be that we would only obsess over the consumer, but now we need to rise to another challenge; regulatory and technology changes are happening at a greater pace than any of us could have imagined. We all built our tech and data stacks to meet all current standards and, most importantly, revenue targets. As a byproduct of all of our great work we have vendors and partners who have either been consolidated or entered the ad tech junkyard in the sky.
The beautiful marketing car we built from the blood, sweat, and tears shed at our agencies is now in need of a remodel. Sure, some of the old parts are not available anymore, but how would we know what is safe these days?
Now, depending on how old you are, you may be at a loss to think of a time when you weren’t automatically putting on that seatbelt. For those precious few who can remember riding in the front seat as a young child, the only safety device was your mother’s arm shooting out without regard to where she stopped you, as long as she restrained you from hitting the dashboard.
Then over 35 years ago, auto test dummies Vince and Larry crashed into American homes, driving a national campaign to promote seatbelts.
Mascots of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, their message was simple: “You could learn a lot from a dummy. Buckle your safety belt.”
Vince and Larry made a huge impact on seatbelt use. The U.S. Department of Transportation tracked America’s tendency to buckle up from 14% in 1984 to 90.7% as of 2019. That’s over 6 times the increase from where they started from!
In the digital marketing world we don’t have 35 years to adopt such safety protections. Data protection is a sorely needed service, and it can’t wait. Fortunately, WFA has a new tool called the Data Safety Index™ (DSI).
We are at a pivotal time when over 120 countries have some form of data-sharing regulations. This means brands need to be responsible for how they’re using and sharing data under potentially 120 different sets of guidelines.
Have I scared you yet? Good, then like Vince and Larry, I’ve shown you enough to shock you into thinking about safety.
Created in partnership with Global Data Bank, this tool enables WFA members to visualize the amount of risk they are currently exposed to (on average) through trackers and cookies on their digital platforms, and see how this compares to other companies at a sectoral and regional level.
The methodology used looked at a range of different factors, including the number of data suppliers placing cookies on the brand’s website, the number of data vendors/resellers that are present amongst the pool of data suppliers, the number of levels of data sharing, the presence of a consent management platform, the type of consent management platform being used.
Many major marketers have built their digital “car” from scratch and without a full plan. Even so, it came out great. Now that car needs a design overhaul that satisfies safety standards in every country, as some of its features and functions have become outdated. This WFA tool is the first step in souping up what we started.
This is only a piece of the journey for many of us. Ensuring that tracking technologies can be revealed on your main properties is the first of many data protection steps necessary in a world where advertisers leverage every point they can unearth. There is still much to do, and the road is going to twist and turn, but the driving is smoother when you carpool with a group like the WFA.
Just remember to buckle up.
Lung Huang serves as the Head of Growth Solutions for Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare focused on improving the lives of pets and pet parents through evolution in science. He oversees the first-party audience data governance for Mars Petcare and advises on growth opportunities for brands within the portfolio.