The growth in internet usage is enabling more data to be collected, stored and used than ever before. This has created new opportunities and risks for businesses and consumers.
Targeted advertising, using consumer data so web users view advertising suited to their interests, is one example. This allows consumers to view more relevant advertising and gives brands higher response rates. But it is important that consumers have control over what data is collected and are given the choice to opt-in or opt-out.
As more data is collected, transferred and stored, data loss and identity theft have increased and high profile cases have been widely reported in the media. Many consumers have become concerned about data protection and security issues.
In their own words
Privacy and data protection issues are top of the mind for many consumers and will become so for many more. We cannot succeed as a business without recognising these concerns, putting in place strict and transparent policies where they are required and educating the public and our clients. In doing so, we are open to cooperating with all our competitors to put in place industry-wide solutions, but we will not allow ourselves to be slowed down in implementing the right approaches.
Our companies collect and use consumer data to study attitudes and purchasing habits and to create targeted digital and direct marketing campaigns. Strong data protection and privacy procedures are essential to maintaining the trust of research participants and consumers.
As a minimum, companies must comply with data protection laws and marketing codes of practice such as the UK Data Protection Act, the EU Data Protection Directive, the US Safe Harbor principles as certified by the US Department of Commerce, the ICC/ESOMAR International Code of Marketing and Social Research Practice, the US Direct Marketing Association Guidance and the UK Market Research Society Code of Conduct. Many companies have additional policies and procedures to safeguard privacy. See case study below for an example of how these issues are managed in our companies.
Our digital companies share information on privacy issues through the WPP Digital group and with others in our industry through organisations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau, of which David Moore, Chairman of 24/7 Real Media, is currently Vice Chair.
Case study: Privacy and data protection at Kantar
In January 2009, Kantar created the role of Chief Privacy Officer, appointing George Pappachen to develop and implement a coordinated privacy and data protection policy across Kantar companies and work directly with clients on these issues. This is the first such appointment by a leading research, insight and consultancy business, and reflects the growing importance of privacy and data protection issues for our industry.
Kantar companies are involved in market research and customer insights, an area which is continuously evolving. The growth of digital technology means that research which used to be done face-to-face or over the phone is frequently done online. A growing number of companies, from previously diverse sectors, are now competing to offer these services. Innovative thinking on privacy issues, backed up by strong policies and procedures can help Kantar differentiate itself and provide reassurance to clients.
Kantar companies will continue to partner with clients to uncover new and innovative methods of data protection and share the findings across the group. They will also participate in and lead efforts by industry associations such as the Market Research Society to raise standards for the research industry.