Cover Story: The Big Qs of 2012
Such statements are not just the rantings of Chicken Little. One of the questions we asked interviewees was, "What's going to be the biggest headache to marketers in 2012?" Overwhelmingly, their answers were about privacy.
"Three recent events indicate the headaches to come in 2012," answers Roman. "Facebook's recent settlement where it agreed to respect consumer's privacy; Capitol Hill's attack on Verizon ('While we understand the benefits of tailoring advertising to customers, we strongly believe that customers should be in control of the sharing and disclosure of their personal information through an Opt-In process') and the Canadian law, which will go into effect this spring, that electronic commercial messages—including email, texts and messages via social media—going to, through or from Canada without prior consent could bring severe consequence."
Roman doesn't necessarily see the focus on privacy as a bad thing. "This continues the inexorable path toward opt-in, consent-based marketing," he explains. "I think this is a good thing. It has been proven to improve the quality of marketing in countries such as Denmark and Germany, who have long had these practices."
"Regardless of the industry, and regardless of the data you collect, you must always be respectful of the proprietary nature of consumer data," says Goodman, and she offers this outline to do so: "Never 'reveal' information that you've collected to your user without knowing it is relevant and respectful of their right to privacy. Using PURL's, for example, establishes an expectation that when your user arrives at a Web page, the information on that page is proprietary to the user (name/address/phone/email). But to get to information beyond those basics, you should require users to log in with their passwords to help them feel that you are protective of their private information. Maintaining data in a database with limited user access is critical. Social security numbers should always be encrypted. Any health-related data should be encrypted. If analysts are working on data, it should be limited to use inside the organization's premises and detailed security protocols must be in place to avoid issues related to theft of laptops, etc."