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Back to News 07/05/2018

When good marketing goes bad: how Facebook made marketing data personal

What marketers can learn from the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle.

Facebook is not just a pioneer in social media, but a marketing success story. With the platform managing 1.4 billion active users every day they offer the marketer a captive audience. Mobile advertising for 2017 made up 89% of Facebook revenue; Facebook advertising overall had a 48% increase between 2016-2017.

All of this may be about to change because of the little matter of consent and respect for personal data.

Facebook violated their customer trust when they allowed the personal data of over 50 million users to be sold on to another firm and to be analyzed using Machine Learning, all without customer consent - the data then being used to manipulate voters. In a statement, Mark Zuckerberg said:

“This was a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it.”

Because of this, advertisers are threatening to pull out of Facebook putting the social media giant’s future at risk.

Why is trust important?

In life we build relationships. It is one of the most important aspects of being human and has a deep evolutionary basis. Factors behind relationship building include the ability to spot deception and determine trustworthiness. Strong relationships are built on trust and respect.

Trust however can be abused too. In the world of marketing, this same principle of trust is used to build customer confidence in a brand. Brand trust should never be underestimated; after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal surfaced, Facebook’s share price plummeted by over 10%. In addition, a campaign to #DeleteFacebook was started to encourage users to delete their Facebook account.

The importance of building a trusted relationship between brand and customer cannot be stressed strongly enough.

Why is consent important?

Consent is a driver of trust. In digital marketing, consent usually translates to capturing permission to use personal and behavioral data. This is neatly expressed in the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has been developed as a reaction to the increasing use of digital data in a highly connected online world. The GDPR stipulates that a structure of consent is built around the processing of personal data. Consent is important because it allows you, as a marketer, to reach out and build a digital touchpoint with the customer. The customer, by consenting, is building a digital relationship with the brand.

Can a marketer have their cake and eat it?

Digital marketing and Machine Learning (ML) can allow customer data to be used in an intelligent way to target the right product to the right people at the right time. Methods like Machine Learning can augment big data to offer insights into consumer behavior and add a degree of personalization to a campaign. However, to use digital marketing effectively, we must look at ways of engaging the customer and making them part of a bilateral relationship - brand to customer to brand. Using ML without engagement may worsen marketing results leading to a ‘Facebook moment’ for a company with the loss of brand reputation. Using a process of consented targeted marketing is part of achieving brand solidarity as it helps to build the trust needed to progress in a relationship. Under the GDPR model, consent is a prerequisite for the processing of personal data. Being respectful of personal data is more than just a privacy consideration, it is an exercise in engaging your audience and building bridges. Ultimately, having a targeted marketing campaign, built on a backbone of consent, will create a stronger and more successful campaign.

The MSc in Digital Marketing & Data Science at emlyon business school provides the opportunity to discover the best practices needed by the modern marketer, when using big data and data analytics to get the best out of their campaigns.

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