marketing analytics clock
May 10, 2018

Turning back the Marketing Analytics clock? GDPR & location data

By Paul Laughlin

As you prepare for GDPR compliance day (25th May), are you turning back your marketing analytics clock?

With a particular focus on use of location data, guest blogger Tony Boobier returns with a different perspective. This builds on his previous post, suggesting that GDPR challenged the ‘Big Data mindset’.

Now, I am on record as stating that I see GDPR as a positive development. Enhanced consumer rights & an opportunity for firms to offer a positive customer data value proposition. But, Tony’s challenge is interesting.

Amidst the, right, focus on legal bases & also employee data – there has been less talk of location data. We’ve reflected previously on the new design challenges of mobile-first & personalisation. Location data is currently a critical component of both improvements.

Over to Tony, to share his musings, on whether GDPR will cause retrenchment from this more targeted interaction

Turning back the Marketing Analytics clock: location data

Everyone and everything is somewhere’.

It’s a pretty obvious statement, but what’s the relevance in terms of the data agenda, and more particularly in respect of GDPR?

Location analytics is a hot topic. By that I mean, in general terms, analytics about where we have been, where we are, where we might go (or be influenced in going). Plus, what that might mean in terms of our attractiveness, to marketeers, for example.

To recap, the European Union’s Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, comes into force on the 25th May 2018. With swinging fines, of up to 4% of annual global revenue, for those who don’t comply. In essence it’s is all about the management and safekeeping of personal data. Personal data refers to any information about an identified or identifiable natural person. So, can include names, identification numbers, contact details, addresses and location.

It seems to me, that detailed location data, inter alia, where we live and where we are at any given time, might fall within the scope of GDPR. In other words, given someone’s address or geo-location, it is quite possible, even easy, to find out who lives there. It may not be immediately obvious, but this can be done by converging a relatively small number of data sets. For example, the Electoral Register, or, help many personal details to fall into place.

Turning back the Marketing Analytics clock: did we go to far?

The marketing industry has marched towards the greater use of data, with higher levels of granularity and analysis. With an increased emphasis on location. Might we now find ourselves at risk of needing to backtrack, in some way, because of GDPR? From the higher the level of granularity, in terms of location information, and the greater ability to link this to an individual?

Aggregating this data, could ensure greater anonymity, but isn’t aggregation a step backwards? In a business environment which is increasing focusing on data and advanced analytics, it seems so.

The insurance industry, for example, is heavily dependent on location information. For example, telematics, or ‘pay as you drive’, is viewed as a step change from the traditional insurance pricing model. But doesn’t telematics rely on detailed data about not only where we are, but who we are and how we are driving? How can this not be affected by the GDPR regulation in some way?

There has been an increased move, in marketing, towards gaining a 360 degree view of the customer. Can we really afford to ignore where customers live and work, within our insight generation?

Turning back the Marketing Analytics clock: it’s about choice

As individuals, we have the choice to opt in or opt out regarding data storage and usage – but this needs to be a deliberate decision on our part. There is a prevalent lack of trust, currently, around the use of data. How might this change the public perception of data and information sharing, including where we are?

The date of GDPR enforcement is already within sight, with the threat that penalties will probably be imposed from the very beginning. Some experts are already saying that the issue of ‘location’ data, in the context of GDPR, just hasn’t adequately been thought through.

At the very least, might there be a need for some form of agreed ‘market practice’? One that doesn’t cut across issues of anti-competitiveness. Such discussions will affect financial services, retailers, utilities and other industries – so this isn’t a niche issue. Isn’t there a need for a wider debate on ‘location data’ in the context of GDPR?

Turning back the Marketing Analytics clock: where are you?

Thanks to Tony for his thoughts on this issue. I’m keen to encourage a number of our guest bloggers to share their different perspectives on GDPR.

Talking about location, where are you on this issue? Have your GDPR preparations (hopefully including information audit), included location data? Have you changed the way you plan to use location data or mobile apps as a result?

It would be great to hear from you. Perhaps you have an example of ‘turning back the marketing analytics clock‘, or of GDPR being a spur to positive progress?