As mentioned, I gave a presentation on the key trends and legal developments sweeping the advertising and marketing ecosystem at last week’s 39th Association of National Advertisers/Brand Activation Association Marketing Law Conference, “Breakthrough: Legal Strategies for Dynamic Businesses.” Today I will share with you the second installment of this series…

The question of who has access to consumer data and device information – and how it gets used – is one that we all need to worry about.  But when it comes to brands, how can they create compelling content to convince a consumer to stay connected and share their data?

And how can brands stay transparent and give consumers real choice about the use of their data?  The need for positive data practices and data security is founded not only on the law – but on a fundamental need for brands to ensure trust with consumers.

Brands now use big data and cross-device data to drive efficiency and effectiveness in advertising and marketing.  Social media platforms, like Instagram, provide similar data and analytic insights.  This measurement data helps brands design smarter, more effective, and more relevant campaigns.

However, with great power comes great responsibility.  Data can be a driver or a danger, or both; and the risks associated with data collection and exchange have drawn the attention of the class action bar as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC announced in September that it will host a workshop this December to explore the injuries suffered by consumers when information is misused.

The self-regulatory guidelines set forth by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), and enforced by the Better Business Bureau’s Accountability Program, also provide a framework for compliance.

These guidelines have imposed transparency, notice, and consumer control requirements for the collection, use, and transfer of (i) cross-app data, (ii) location data, (iii) personal directory data, and(iv) multi-site data.  This year, the Accountability Program is enforcing the DAA’s Cross-Device Guidance.

That being said, consumers need to accept that no one can fully opt out of a data-driven consumer economy.  All of us are part of it by simply leading our lives and transacting in today’s world.  And when company data collection goes wrong, the consequences can be devastating – both to consumers and to the company – its reputation, goodwill, and bank account.

The Way I See It

To stay competitive and secure today, companies need to:

  • accept the seriousness of the risk,
  • redouble their commitment to protect consumer information, and
  • constantly refine measures to keep pace with the “dark side.”

Companies must have an effective pre-emption and response plan — because when a breach happens, consumers feel betrayed by those tasked with protecting their interests.