Why the data sector needs to be more vigilant | DMA

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Why the data sector needs to be more vigilant

“Data and personal privacy are at the heart of effective direct marketing and at the bottom of many of the problems that arise when things go wrong”. So says the DM Commission website. The DM Commission has called for root and branch reforms of the data sector to help tackle issues that are undermining consumer confidence in direct marketing.

We’re all responsible for the data we use
What is clear is that data owners, intermediaries and those to whom data is supplied need to properly secure the approvals necessary for email, text and telemarketing to take place. A number of the cases brought before the DMC highlight that intermediaries are relying on the data supplier to have secured the appropriate opt-ins and to have checked data against preference services.

While this is true for reputable data owners – data intermediaries and end users of lists cannot rely solely on their suppliers to have cleansed lists – they need to take accountability for themselves and cleanse the data as an insurance, especially if the data has not been used within 28 days of supply. In addition end users and intermediaries need to beware of lists that have been complied based on data that makes broad reference to “trusted third parties” as inevitably this leads to complaints when contact is made.

Be upfront with individuals at data collection
The problem is made worse when contact is made to prospects in the name of market research, with recipients often not clear that they are opening up the flood gates to a deluge of unsolicited emails and calls. The Commission is right to highlight that the greatest concern currently seems to be for unwanted calls or text messages where there is really no excuse for mobile numbers not to have been screened against TPS.

Future concerns will no doubt turn to email – in my in business mailbox today I counted 25 emails that I know I did not sign up for and which I immediately trash – that’s 9000 a year! Given I never tick the “trusted third-party” box it’s no wonder many small businesses who buy lists and get poor responses complain.

Helping responsible data businesses differentiate themselves from rogue data traders
The DMC make a number of useful suggestions. Notably, to use the DMA’s forthcoming DM Code of Practice to drive better standards and to enable DMA members to differentiate themselves from those not following the DMA’s standards. I agree with their suggestion that a review of data sourcing is required so that data owners can be clear on the opt-ins gathered for their data and to be able to tag and trace data as it is traded.

Better guidance on how data will be shared is also required to stamp out the “trusted third-party” box and enable the public to opt in to sector specific messages, recognising many data owners don’t know exactly how their data will be used downstream. Better compliance is needed in downstream use so data owners can be sure the data is not being used contrary to terms and conditions and last but by no means least guidance is required for all parties to take responsibility for the data they buy or lease and do the necessary preference checks.

By DMA guest blogger Christine Andrews, Director, DQM Group & DMA Data Council Co-opted Member

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