Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Are brands prepared for a new era of data?

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to accelerate their digital transformation plans, the impacts of GDPR regulations and the looming demise of third-party cookies had many organisations re-evaluating how they collect, store and leverage customer data. NDA talked to Jon Mew, Chief Executive Officer of IAB UK; Lauren Ogúndèkó, Head of Response and board member at PHD UK; and  Peter Markey, Chief Marketing Officer at Boots, to find out how brands and businesses can best prepare for the new era of data.

Mew told NDA: “Brands are thinking a lot more strategically about data. The challenge is moving from having data for data’s sake, which is no use to anyone, to focus on that data that matters most to you. At the moment, many organisations have access to more data than they can feasibly cope with. For most businesses, the process of turning that into something useful, combining it with human insights to inform smart creative decisions, is still a work-in-progress.”

Ogúndèkó pointed to the importance of businesses recognising the new legal requirements around data and the potential dangers of failing to do so. She said: “From a brand perspective, you have to ensure that you’ve got a really strong consent framework in place. The IAB’s consent framework is brilliant template for businesses to start with. Brands need to make sure that they understand the rules around GDPR properly. Privacy regulation has become a lot more stringent over the past couple of years so that, today, a data breach means big trouble, possibly even a fine to the value 4% of annual worldwide turnover. I would recommend that brands hire data specialists, privacy and ethics specialists, to make sure they stay on top of this stuff.”

Boots’ Markey agreed that data is at the heart of digital transformation but warned fellow marketers against taking their eye off the ball in relation to managing the overall brand: “I’m a huge fan in digital and data – it’s vital – but, equally, I think we need strong brands as well. So you need to be faster and better and smarter about how you use your data to reach customers and prospects, but you need to do that with a strong brand that knows what it’s about. You can’t do one at the expense of the other. Get those things working in combination and it’s a beautiful formula.”