• Trump and Brexit may have damaged data intermediaries
  • Trump and Brexit may have damaged data intermediaries

    Donald Trump and Brexit could be creating a challenge for technology marketing leaders. Data intermediaries have, until recently, been a useful resource for marketing teams to gain details of potential customers. But the murky use of data by the presidential campaign waged by Donald Trump in the USA and by the leave the EU lobby in the UK have sparked a debate and concerns that data intermediaries do more damage than good.

    Donald Trump and Brexit could be creating a challenge for technology marketing leaders. Data intermediaries have, until recently, been a useful resource for marketing teams to gain details of potential customers.  But the murky use of data by the presidential campaign waged by Donald Trump in the USA and by the leave the EU lobby in the UK have sparked a debate and concerns that data intermediaries do more damage than good. 

    Data intermediary organisations typically acquire data from sources, these can include media, financial services, utilities or health businesses, they translate the information and match it to similar data sets. The data sets can be public data sets, primary data resources and from targeted data collections. For those organisations selling data it is a vital revenue source and for a wide range of organisations it can be an invaluable insight into some of the communities they sell to or serve.

    The Web Foundation describes data intermediaries as "connecting data providers (for example, governments) with those who can benefit by using data or data-driven products, intermediaries are helping to articulate demand for data, creating and repackaging data, and creating novel applications." 

    For technology marketing teams these data sources can help target online or traditional marketing campaigns and is especially useful for the business-to-consumer (B2C) technology providers.  

    Sadly the use of such data, highlighted by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica story of 2018, has now become a sore point for many marketing teams. Facebook and social media businesses have become the titans of the data intermediary sector with access to more data and more personalised information than was ever previously thought possible.  But the partnership between Facebook and Cambridge, which at the very least dented a lot of faith in Facebook and may well have been in contravention of 2011 Federal Lawns in the US has made consumers aware that their data is being used and shared with third parties.  

    Not only are consumers more aware of the data use - but let's not forget, they pay nothing for Facebook - the debacle has given regulators an added incentive to reign in social networks, which will result in decreasing the data intermediary sector. In Germany the Financial Times reports, the government is considering whether the behaviour of social media players is anti-competitive in the targeted advertising market.  In the USA the governor of California has tabled the idea that consumers should be paid a data dividend by the social network operators. In the UK the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), has published a proposal "that seeks to promote dialogue between the regulators and the government, and encourages a comprehensive reflection on corporate and political practices," in regard to the use of data and social media. The ICO adds: 

    "Specifically, how are the methods of using personal data to reveal or infer sensitive information, such as political views, consistent with the Data Protection Act 2018? For example, when using data obtained from multiple sources and analysed, political parties did not regard any information inferred from this process as ‘personal data', a conclusion with which the ICO disagrees."

    The ICO questions the use of what it calls "surface level data processing, such as the use of the electoral register alongside information submitted into a mailing list. Restrictions to the electoral register will have an impact beyond political messaging, it will impact marketing too.  

    It is likely the UK will create a code of practice, which will be voluntary. 

     

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    About Mark Chillingworth

    Mark Chillingworth is Contributing Editor to Tech Marketers and one of Europe's leading CIO Editors

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