Big data has been telling a big lie - that the data it uses is not personal and therefore it does not need to operate under the requirements of data protection laws. I have lost count of the number of presentations I have seen by big data practitioners - major brands, data owners, analytics services providers - talking about the behavioural, location and device data they capture, fuse and deploy against service provision or marketing. On their own, each of those pieces of data is legitimately non-PII. There is nothing about clickstream or device type that is very revealing in itself. As long as that information was being used for simple purposes, such as tracking user experience or monitoring mobile website availability, it was possible to argue that there was no need to apply the...
Google will today argue that the UK Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction over the collection and use of data by the search engine, even when it relates to UK consumers. Further, it is also seeking leave to appeal on a ruling that its data collection practices had caused damage and were a serious issue for the courts to consider. In a significant twist to a two-year legal argument, the Information Commissioner has made a last-minute application to intervene in the case. The appeal relates to the so-called “Safari  workaround” which Google developed when Apple shipped a version of the browser with the default set to block third-party cookies. Following complaints in the US, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Google to stop circumventing these settings, leading to a...
Government proposals to force ISPs to maintain data links between IP addresses and subscriber identities will change at a stroke a key cultural assumption about big data. Until now, online service providers have been making free with the information that flows from connecting a device to the internet on the basis that none of it is personally identifiable information.  That argument has long seemed thin - IP address, just like search terms or location data, may not be directly associated with a specific individual. Data scientists have repeatedly shown just how easy it is to infer who the user is based only on this supposedly anonymous information, however. With the new requirement to provide both connection history and user data to the security services, identification becomes...
Customer databases play an important role, most strongly in terms of CRM and campaign effectiveness. With so many channels available and with consumers “always on”, measuring and tracking data has become harder. When so much data is being generated, how can marketers unlock the value and apply the learnings to create more effective campaigns that inspire engagement and advocacy?  Data shouldn’t limit creativity. To generate actionable insight, it’s important for data specialists, planners and creatives to be involved with the process from the early stages. Here at Indicia, we start every campaign with a session where we share the brief and identify clients’ challenges using data and analytics from the outset. By combining different aspects of each at...
When I was first hired as a graduate data planner, fresh-faced and eager to get stuck into the world of propensity modelling and response rates, there seemed to be plenty of women working in my area of marketing. My line manager was female, the head of department was female and I remember a firm 50:50 gender balance in our large team of data planners and analysts. Fast-forward 12 years, with my marginally less fresh-faced self now challenged with multi-channel customer journey tracking, and it seems that things have taken a step backwards. Last month I attended the DataIQ Future Summit and was saddened to find only two female speakers on the day’s 20-strong panel. From a quick glance around the audience, I could see that roughly 40 per cent of the attendees were women, making the...
Marketers and agencies are increasingly excited about the potential of real-time data. However, while the availability of real-time data has many benefits, there are potential pitfalls, too. An informative parallel is the outbreak of World War I, the centenary of which is being commemorated this year. This event might seem too distant to enlighten us, but there are many informative similarities. Like now, the Summer of 1914 was a time of rapid technological change. The telegraph had transformed communications - messages that had once taken days to convey could now be transmitted instantaneously.  Some historians, most notably Stephen Kern in “Culture of Time and Space”, have suggested that this new technology contributed to the war. Diplomats who had been trained in an...
Successful businesses are built on keeping customers happy so they remain loyal and, ultimately, spend more. When it comes to encouraging customer loyalty, the facts are simple - customers who have a good experience with a brand will return, as well as make positive recommendations to people around them. However, keeping customers happy is often easier said than done. The old saying, “the customer is always right”, is not always true and understanding the complexity of creating a positive customer experience can be tricky for brands to master. In today’s market, customers are more vocal than ever, sharing their opinions and views through their own social media channels, so businesses have to ensure they are always one step ahead by listening to what customers want and...
Google has once again had its wrists slapped by a European regulator - in this case, the data protection commissioner for Hamburg (acting on behalf of Germany as a whole). The demand is that users of the search engine giant (and its other owned services) should be asked for consent before any data captured on them is used for profiling. (For more on this story, go here) Two major issue jump out of this ruling (which it is far from clear that Google will actually respond to and respect - part of the company’s current slew of legal challenges across Europe stem from an unwillingness to act on previous demands relating to search rankings). The first is that Hamburg is acting ahead of what current European Union legislation actually requires. Since the “Cookies Law”...
One of the key results of the big data revolution is that the need for businesses to move data out of the IT department and into the boardroom is now widely understood and accepted. C-level executives are increasingly seeing data as a business asset, rather than a by-product of operations or merely something that the IT department needs to store and manage. Board-level conversations are no longer focused on historical data in the latest financial reports, but on how to get real-time access to current data to shape strategies and help improve decision-making. Everyone around the boardroom table is excited at the prospect of transforming what was once a hard-to-manage by-product of business operations into a valuable asset to help them gain an edge over the competition. In theory, all...
When was the last time you sent a postcard to a friend while on holiday? More likely that you posted a holiday snap on Instagram. Do you buy a newspaper on your way to work in the morning (or even get it delivered to your home)? Probably not - the tablet version is a more likely source for your news (or even just relying on Twitter, if you are less worried about the reliability of the stories you read...) Those are just two examples of consumer behaviours that have changed significantly in the last twenty years, with an accelerated rate of change in the last ten. What once looked like a permanent feature of every day life - the role of printed communications - has been overwhelmed by digital channels (even though print persists, albeit in reduced form). So what do you do if your...