Mark Zuckerberg walked into the U.S. Senate committee hearing about the data practices at Facebook, the company he co-founded where he now holds the title of CEO. He wore a suit and tie, far different from the hoodie he sported while sweating profusely during questioning about consumer privacy a decade ago, noted public radio announcers as I listened to the live testimony yesterday via WHYY.
— CNN (@CNN) April 10, 2018
Zuckerberg may have matured during the 14 years he’s grown his company, but he’s still having data privacy issues, noted the senators. To be fair, they’re different ones, Zuckerberg said.
The current data privacy controversy that resulted in 44 senators assembled to question and hear testimony from Zuckerberg is about how Cambridge Analytica got information from 87 million Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica then used that data to create psychographic models in order to effectively target voters for President Donald Trump’s campaign, as well as the Brexit campaign. (Target Marketing coverage shows that one of the Trump campaign’s most effective marketing programs was messaging voters on Facebook.)
As a result of lawmakers’ concerns, Facebook has been quickly instituting new privacy policies about third-party data, which are already impacting marketers. Brands are also taking a closer look at their involvement with the social media network and deciding if advertising on it is worth it. Much like the platform’s users, they’re debating whether to #DeleteFacebook.
Tips for Marketers Noticing the Decreased Data Flow
Quinn Sheek, director of demand generation at full-service digital agency DEG, told Target Marketing yesterday that brands interested in buttoning up their research tactics now that Facebook is changing its data policies can do the following:
- Be Smart. Some insights can be generated from smart use of first-party data. While you’ll need to be careful working with first-party data due to impending GDPR regulations, there is a way to utilize this research to target audiences in a relevant way.
- Rely on Facebook Optimization Tactics. [Work] with Facebook’s advertising optimization tactics to drive conversions and clicks.
- Aim Higher in the Funnel. Brands will need to develop ways to reach a broader customer audience, conveying a core, relevant message that will resonate with many.
“Facebook is removing a lot of third-party data providers, therefore removing half of the existing areas marketers go to for research insights, so businesses need to think about other methods to gauge target audience from research.”
Tips for Marketers Reconsidering Facebook Data Use
Even though Facebook is ending relationships with third parties that misuse its data, there is a reputational aspect for brands to consider regarding continued use of Facebook data.
Facebook leaders were smart to change third-party data use policies, says Brennan Wilkie, SVP of CX strategy at CX feedback intelligence company, InMoment
Brennan Wilkie, SVP of CX (customer experience) strategy at CX feedback intelligence company, InMoment.
He tells Target Marketing on Monday:
"The Cambridge Analytica breach should not be viewed in either a corporate or policy vacuum; it is a matter of human relationships and trust. The perception that today's consumers will give away their personal data without regard to how or where it's used is absolutely false. In fact, research shows that today's citizens are more discerning and savvier about this issue than ever. InMoment's 2018 ‘CX Trends Report’ revealed that 75 percent of U.S. consumers find most forms of brands' attempts at personalization and the associated data collection somewhat creepy. In a stunning admission, 40 percent of brands classify their ‘personalization’ efforts the same way. And there are financial and reputational consequences: 20 percent of customers say they will stop using a brand after a creepy experience, 31 percent will share the negative experience via their networks, and 22 percent will start looking for other options.
“Consumers are not completely averse to sharing their information, but only when there's true transparency and they receive something that they, versus the brand, truly value in return. The Facebook fiasco, while dramatic, is just one of innumerable instance of the new contract between brand and customer being violated. Organizations that embrace this time as an opportunity to bring customers closer and include them in the co-creation of a new framework — one that is an authentically mutually beneficial relationship — will be at a massive competitive advantage."
Testimony Relevant to Marketers From Zuckerberg
Both in his opening statement and during questioning, Zuckerberg made it clear that advertising is woven into the fabric of Facebook.
His words made it seem as though to him, marketers are members of the global Facebook community. Ads connect everyone in the world, they economically support the platform and they’re the reason Facebook is free to consumers, he said.
“There will always be a version of Facebook that is free,” Zuckerberg testified.
Despite a senator’s question regarding making users pay to use a hypothetical ad-free version of the network, Zuckerberg stuck to his belief that ads are good for Facebook and its users.
The most negative comment from Zuckerberg came after questions about targeted ads based on user content: “Even though people don’t like ads, they really don’t like ads that aren’t relevant.”
But Zuckerberg balked at disclosing to the hotel where he was staying and the people he’d messaged that week, when asked to do so by a senator who was making a point about the right to privacy.
— Wednesdayy 🇺🇸 (@RealWednesdayy) April 10, 2018
Senators were transparent with Zuckerberg that the news coverage leading up to yesterday’s hearing was accurate — they’re concerned about the alleged misuse of Facebook user data, the amount of time it took the company to notify users and the potential monopoly it has on consumer data. They were also concerned that potential monopoly will expand as Facebook shuts off the third-party access to its data. As a side note, senators assigned alleged monopoly status to other companies, as well stating that Google, Twitter, Apple and Amazon also collect data on consumers.
That’s part of the reason that Zuckerberg’s immediate reaction to the idea that his company has no competitors was, “it certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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