Permission Communism | DMA

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Permission Communism


Consider the concept of “share of wallet” - the idea that a customer has limited spending power. This cash limit forces him/her to decide which products or services to buy. Some brands will win; others will lose.

The new marketing battleground is consent. It’s competitive, ruthless and volatile. Indeed it displays all the market forces of a bazaar or city trading floor; except the currency is not money, but permission to market. There is a limited amount of permission around particularly among some profiles, for example, 70% of over-55s provide consent less than 20% of the time – and overall, the level of permission is declining.

You can see from this diagram how infrequently some consumers consent; these groups are “consent-poor”. The chance of being a brand that wins consent from an over-55 is low.

Research conducted by fast.MAP for The Royal Mail's Market Reach showed consumers’ lack of trust about how data is held and used is a major issue - 90% were very concerned or concerned that their contact details would be passed on to another organisation; 83% were very concerned or concerned that the organisation would contact them too often; and 71% were very concerned or concerned that the organisation would lose their contact details.

Research for the Consent Optimising Benchmarks (created by fast.MAP) identified that the choice of words in a permission statement can significantly affect “who” and “how many” consent.

Some brands will win consent, most-probably because they persuade the individual they are trustworthy, will keep their data safe, offer a choice of contact route or promise a desirable benefit. Many brands will fail and the privilege to market will be withheld.

The attempt to persuade consumers to consent should not be considered a boring legal chore; it is a challenging marketing task - perhaps the most important marketing campaign of the year. Consent is a limited and precious commodity.

Look at how different brands in the same sector have tackled the challenge of consent. At the 2015 DMA Data Protection Day, Julia Porter, the Guardian’s Director of Consumer Revenues and DMA Chair explained the extensive internal work needed to create a simple, clear permission statement.

The result is a confident and open communication that includes video and explains why the Guardian asks for consent to use its readers’ data. Contrast this approach with that of some other leading newspapers which furtively touch on the subject of consent and hide legal language behind clicks wherever possible. One brand has embraced consent by being open and self-assured; others bury their heads in the sand and pretend the consent challenge will go away, but in the process they weaken consumer trust.

So it’s unwise for those slothful marketers and ambitious administrators to decide an essential element of consent should be standardised. If permission statements are to be normalised, why stop there? What about identical DRTV ads for charities or matching email formats for all retailers?

The way a brand communicates the benefits of consent is part of its competitive advantage which should not be diminished by standardised wording. Permission communism is lazy thinking.

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