The last few weeks have seen some interesting moves around ad-blockers and Safe Harbour and raises some important questions. Both point to the need for consumer data and the fragility of that relationship in terms of developing consumer trust for a sustainable business future.
How should the industry respond?
Perhaps consumer trust in mobile is actually a disruptive element that is paving the way for a new wave of apps and services that make it a virtue or selling point?
MEF is holding its European Consumer Trust Summit. On October 20, at Level39 in London’s Canary Wharf, to discuss these and other issues with delegates from brands, regulators and consumer advocates.
We asked MEF members and the wider mobile community for their thoughts.
Marco Veremis, CEO, Upstream
Consumer trust means more than just robust privacy settings, it must be a central core around which mobile content has to be built. For Western brands looking to expand into developing markets there are a number of simples steps that can be taken which makes the brand more relatable. Something as obvious as providing content in the local language of the target market makes brands more relatable. With only 5% of the world’s language represented online at the moment it becomes clear why consumers respond well to content they can easily understand.
The rise of ad-blocking software suggests that there is a shift amongst consumers away from ad-supported content because adverts are that much more intrusive on mobile platforms than desktops. This is where subscription platforms can steal a march. By breaking down the cost of entry for consumers in developing markets, subscription platforms offer affordable access to a ‘premium’ content experience which is ultimately what consumers the world over want.
Samu Konttinen, Executive Vice President, Consumer Security, F-Secure
2015 has been a year of subtle but significant progress on privacy. The U.S. Congress voted to limit mass surveillance for the first time since the 9/11 attacks. Now, the European Court of Justice’s has struck down the 2000 European “Safe Harbour” agreement.
Safe Harbour offered U.S. companies the authority to certify their own compliance with European standards and in return they were allowed access to Europeans’ private data. The Court of Justice found the agreement denied citizens the right to complain about how their data is being used and violated of the Commission’s own data retention standards.
Until a new agreement is finalized, each country will now set its own standards for dealing with data transfer with American firms. The Court’s decision could potentially lead to a “Balkanization” of the EU’s data laws, sacrificing many of the advantages of acting as one coherent marketplace.
But regardless of the aftermath, the ruling suggests that the steady attrition of individual privacy rights may finally have been halted.
Andrew Bud, founder and CEO, iProov
Consumer trust is a crucial asset for our entire industry as it becomes more data-driven and more security-aware. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that their data flows and eddies around the ecosystem, driving and lubricating the provision of services they want. They are prepared to trust many organisations to collect and channel it – providing that such trust is not abused. That trust is seen differently in different parts of the world and by different kinds of public organisation.
At this time the end of safe harbour, the rise in data sovereignty, new rules on cyber-security and on protection of personal data, and the rising awareness of consumer rights to their own identities, with consequent new business models, makes this a complex, challenging but also very exciting moment for our eco-system. Innovation and education, combined with good regulation, will be key enablers.
VP Marketing Strategy
Simon Best, VP Marketing Strategy, Orange
The mobile age has increased the notion that personal data is a daily part of our lives. Social networks, mobile operators, app developers and advertisers have greater visibility of consumer data than ever before, enabling them to generate accurate profiles of customers to improve marketing and deliver new services.
Beyond these commercial drivers however, there is growing awareness that collection and analysis of data also has the potential to deliver wider societal benefits, such as improving transportation, facilitating planning and controlling the spread of disease.
Even in these cases, where data would be anonymised, garnering and retaining consumer trust around data collection is as critical as ever. Organisations must be transparent about uses for personal data in all its forms, and provide consumers with the tools to control what happens to their data and ultimately have the final say.
With this trust in place, the promises of what Big Data can deliver will be realised to the benefit of all.
Thomas Eggar LLP
Daniel Hedley, Associate, Thomas Eggar LLP
Data protection law provides a number of other gateways to lawful export of personal data to a third country, such as data subject consent, standard form contracts and self-assessment, and the Commission has confirmed in its statement yesterday that those gateways remain available. While, in the long term, the court’s judgment could also leave some of those gateways vulnerable to attack on similar grounds to Safe Harbour, in the short to medium term they remain available.
The ICO, the data protection regulator and principal enforcer here in the UK, has indicated that it is considering the judgment and will provide guidance for businesses in due course. Reading between the lines, it seems to have little appetite for instant, rigorous enforcement against the new situation. Businesses would be well advised to start the dialog process with their US-based cloud providers and other data processors, and to keep an eye on the ICO for further guidance.
Justin Taylor, UK MD, Teads
It’s clear that online video ads need to be carefully placed so that they are directly relevant to the content someone is consuming at that time and that the user has control. Addressing these issues will reduce consumer animosity towards ads and lead to greater viewing figures for advertisers.
Jason du Preez
Jason du Preez, CEO, Privitar
If users are to have any confidence that their private information will remain private, companies need to think very seriously about how they protect and anonymise user’s data. After all, data breaches are not just embarrassing for the organisations involved. They can have really serious financial and personal consequences for users, destroying consumer trust and loyalty.
Companies need the embrace the irrefutable fact that the way they manage and process data will have a direct impact on brand and customer loyalty. Embracing a data-centric approach to data security and privacy and a process that ensures only essential data is visible in any given process – privacy-by-default – will enable organisations to confidently use sensitive data to drive innovation, create new differentiated product offerings and capitalise on risks that are better quantified and understood.”
Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange
The key to guaranteeing consumer trust is in giving individuals the freedom to work and communicate, safe in the knowledge that their privacy, data protection and ownership rights are being upheld. Safe Harbor effectively blurred the lines on data privacy restrictions between our two continents.
Going forward, it’s tough to imagine mid-sized, data-heavy businesses – and even major enterprises like Google or Microsoft – being able to convince their European customers that their data is safe in their hands when, as the court has ruled, it clearly isn’t.
Thoughts Around Me
Mahdi Yahya, co-founder of Thoughts Around Me,
People have been shocked at the amount of private information companies hold on them. Some of the largest tech companies have lost the trust of their customers, and we are now starting to see users move away. Users will not stay loyal to brands they do not trust.
But there’s an opportunity here too. Companies that adapt to these changing consumer attitudes will benefit. In the future, firms will need to be more transparent about how they store data – and find business models that do not depend on selling personal information. These companies will win consumers’ trust and attract people away from competitors.
Of course, targeted advertising will come under pressure, but there are still lots of data points that companies can use to sell ads. Crucially, companies do not need identifying data – like users’ first and last names – to target adverts effectively.
Frederic Joseph, COO, S4M
When it comes to trust, the news on ad blockers marks a seminal moment and one that represents good news for the industry, both consumers and advertisers. I totally understand the concerns of users, upset by intrusive and badly targeted ads that make no sense to them and interrupt their content consumption. I know I am not alone by being annoyed with irrelevant adverts or pop-ups that are impossible to close without clicking through to the landing page.