Data Privacy

Better personalisation needs better data

The explosion of data that is powering our worlds and our lives is also the lifeblood of brands trying to selling us products and services.

The marketing game has increasingly become about gathering, hoarding and acquiring as much as this precious resource as possible, all the better to understand and move closer to people deemed likely to buy.

While we have concerns about the way this data is collected, the logic is at least clear. But there’s a hitch in this plan – and it’s a big one. Namely, that a significant chunk of that data is inaccurate.

Now, we’ve always broadly known that to be true, and believed this figure to be anywhere up to 50 per cent.

A Deloitte report in the US, however, has put some detailed numbers to it – and they are genuinely staggering.

Two-thirds of survey respondents for Predictably inaccurate: the prevalence and perils of bad big data, stated that third-party data about them was only 0 to 50 per cent accurate overall, while one third thought it was only 0-25 per cent correct. Just let that sink in a minute.

Clearly, wrong data means wrong targeting – and potentially pushing customers away instead of pulling them closer in. Not to mention the missed opportunities of not getting in front of the right people who might actually want what is on offer.

As to why the data was so wrong: “Most commonly, the available information was outdated—especially vehicle data. Many others saw the data as characterizing their parents or other household members (spouses or children) rather than themselves. The most-mentioned feeling among respondents was surprise—not at the amount of correct data available, but rather that the information was so limited, of poor quality, and inconsistent. In essence, for many respondents, the data seemed, as aptly put by one respondent, “stale.””

And this is not a lone finding – a third-party study referenced by Deloitte found that “92 per cent of financial institutions rely on faulty information to better understand their members.”

Meanwhile, amid this chaotic slew of inaccurate and incomplete data, the demand for genuinely personalised products and offers continues to grow. Brands remain desperate to meet this need, but are being hindered by a lack of accurate data.

A new report from the Luxury Institute, The Rising Tide of Advanced Personalization, reports: “The major reason marketers cite for the failure to execute true personalization is the scarcity of data, and most importantly, the lack of accurate, timely, and real-time data.”

The Luxury Institute has been charting the evolution of data privacy, and the rise of an associated Personal Data Economy, based on the consented sharing on rich, perfect data direct from individuals.

One of the experts it spoke to, quoted in the report, is our chairman, Julian Ranger. The report said: “The X factor for achieving Advanced Personalization is best described by founder Julian Ranger, a British tech entrepreneur who has been busy architecting part of the ecosystem of the future of personalization.

“According to Ranger, the obvious, elegant solution to fixing the current toxic digital ad tech model is to return data control to the individual and continuously aggregate rich data, in real time, at the level of the human being. This is the only way for marketers to achieve deep, relevant customer insight and personalization, in real time.

“By assisting the individual consumer to access and control all their streams of personal data such as health, fitness, financial, search, transactional, consumption, location, etc., in personal data stores, we can ensure privacy, protection, and complete accuracy.

“Wherever individuals choose to store their data, it can be protected with encryption and other safeguards, yet, be structured in optimal formats to make it available for analyzing, sharing, selling, donating and exchanging in order to generate massive exponential innovation and value for the entire ecosystem.”

Personal data direct from the people who created it offers many important benefits to businesses, innovation and research – and this data is always single-source, wide, deep, and normalised. In a word, it is accurate – and a world away from what is available today.

Bad data leads to bad decisions, and is bad practice. We need a new standard – good data, held and consented by individuals, ethically used to create better personalisation. This, in turn, will create better business – and drive us towards a better, and stronger, data economy for the benefit of all.