Digital Transformation Is Driving New Conversations on Transparency and Privacy

Accenture Interactive panel at Cannes discusses the future of our data

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CANNES, France—With digital transformation comes a host of new data and technologies designed to better serve brands and target consumers—and as a result, the conversations around transparency and privacy are heating up.

Tackling the challenges of transparency and the future of privacy and programmatic, Adweek editor Lisa Granatstein convened a panel Thursday morning on the sun dappled upper deck of the Accenture Interactive yacht.

The panel, which was also hosted by the IAB, touched on the complex, and at times fraught, evolution of brands, data and customer journey.

“We’ve been hearing from a growing chorus of marketers that they are dismayed with the transparency issue,” said Scott Tieman, global lead for programmatic services, Accenture Interactive, who added “It starts with the company you keep, and the ecosystem players we are working with. They are really focused on trust and transparency.”

A more direct relationship and the collection of first-party data and value exchange with consumers was also a focus. “We had to recapture the control of our customers and our data,” said Remy Merckx, vp, digital, Radisson Hotel Group, who added the over reliance on third-party data has been problematic. “Agencies were owning us rather than us owning agencies, and that had to stop.”

Following on that theme, Anna Bager, evp, of industry initiatives, IAB, aired the concept of a “direct brand revolution” that both brand marketers and platforms need to be more cognizant of. “To be competitive you need to know that your customer is going to expect a much different relationship that is much more one to one,” she said.

As for programmatic, the panel agreed that while there are real benefits of bringing that capability more in-house, the process should be gradual and built in a bespoke, on an as-needed-based way. “The majority of marketers are thinking of in-housing programmatic … the reality is it’s more of a hybrid,” noted Tieman. “We need to think about our own organizational structure.”

Agencies were owning us rather than us owning agencies, and that had to stop.
Remy Merckx, Radisson Hotel Group

From his perspective at Radisson, Merckx agreed that the programmatic option is important, but it is something that should be crafted by true practitioners like Accenture Interactive.

“That is not our world. Our core work is to get them [guests] in beds and serve them a great breakfast,” said Remi, adding “We need to know our customers and once we know that we can build the technology to get to serve them better.”

The conversation also hit on privacy, GDPR and the pending “California Ballot” that is focused on consumer data protection. Bager acknowledged that in its early days GDPR created some headaches “but I don’t see it as a long-term hindrance,”she said. However she pointed to the California ballot on privacy as a much more “draconian” version of GDPR that could have very drastic consequences for the media and marketing ecosystem.

“This is the question of our times right now and we are going to have to see how this plays out,” said Tieman, adding “consumers do want to understand what data is being collected and that that data is being collected in service of them.”

For Radisson, Merckx said GDPR did cause some customer fall off, but also brought more loyal customers to the surface and in the end actually helped lift conversion levels with more qualified customers.

“We increased our conversion with customers that are more loyal, more qualified.”

@jcoopernyc James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.