How to Ensure Your Second-Party Data Is Ethically Sourced

Providing you and consumers peace of mind

At a time when reports of unethical and questionable data use are a seemingly regular occurrence, marketers must double down on their commitment to be responsible practitioners. That means ethically sourcing data, whether it comes from a syndicated audience data provider or a trusted brand partner.

As consumers, we talk about ethically sourcing everything from coffee to clothing. It’s the same with data; in fact, it’s actually more important because data is essentially an abstraction of a human. Doing your due diligence demonstrates your respect for the consumer, whose expectations are at their highest. It also prevents you from rewarding bad actors who do not share the same standards for data ethics.

Ethical sourcing doesn’t just provide the assurance that you are doing right by the consumer. It also lets you know what you paid for. Using bad data has repercussions on all aspects of your campaign and hurts results and ROI. Verifying that the data you purchase or exchange for marketing purposes is above board allows you to be confident in its quality and integrity and deliver better marketing.

Adopting a rigorous approach to data sourcing is critical as you seek to enhance your knowledge with new data sources. More and more organizations are now exploring second-party data partnerships to supplement their efforts to gain a more well-rounded view of the customer.

Second-party data is simply another organization’s first-party data shared between parties with the end goal of improving their data-driven marketing. Second-party data helps marketers overcome a hard truth: that no matter how much customer data you can collect, it will never be enough. Ironically this doesn’t necessarily imply you need to collect more data, but rather acknowledges that you only ever have line of sight to the consumer within a limited context.

Verifying that the data you purchase or exchange for marketing purposes is above board allows you to be confident in its quality and integrity and deliver better marketing.

At a time when customer expectations are at their highest, brands have to deeply understand how customers are engaging with them (first-party data) and understand how a customer engages with other parties (second-party data) to exceed those demands and provide exceptional experiences.

As you evaluate potential second-party data partners, ensuring the data is ethically sourced is critical. To assist you in this evaluation process, follow these best practices.

Identify the data and promises made

Consumer data always comes with rules. Marketers need to not only be preoccupied with meeting consumer expectations of experiences but also with their expectations for how data will be used for marketing purposes. It’s critical to understand the provenance of data as well as the commitments that were made to the consumer at the point of collection.

When evaluating a second-party data partner, review the privacy policies that were present at the point of collection and define the conditions on how, when and where the data can be used in support of consumer privacy. Ensure consumers were provided with adequate notice and opt-out choices. Second-party data, while more unique, also increases the amount of due diligence you should do prior to engaging in a meaningful partnership.

Use an independent expert to validate ethical data sourcing

If this kind of due diligence sounds onerous, the good news is that you don’t have to develop expertise to do this yourself. If you have a potential data partner or are selecting from a number of partners, you can have a third-party expert who understands. This provides an important outside perspective that can not only determine whether data was ethically sourced but can also vet the quality of the data from both parties to establish whether the partnership will be beneficial.

Establish proper controls for your data

Trust is the foundation of all human relationships and that extends to business relationships. Even if you have a trusted relationship with another brand or publisher, it’s unnecessary and risky to share consumer data with them directly. Exchanging customer files surrenders control of your data, preventing you from knowing whether you are keeping good on your promises to consumers, so why should you have to?

Fortunately, you can meet your second-party data needs without ever having to hand over your proprietary customer data to another brand or publisher. As a safeguard, consider a third-party that provides a safe-haven environment where both parties can access, activate, analyze and measure the data, all with persistent anonymous-based IDs. A neutral ecosystem will prevent unnecessary data sharing, allowing you to determine the inputs and control the output flow so you can be confident that your data is always secure, avoiding potential damage to your brand’s reputation.

When sourced and activated in a secure, privacy-compliant way with the proper controls and permissions, second-party data enhances your ability to deliver better customer experiences by leaps and bounds and putting ethics at the heart of all you do with data will ensure you always do right by your customers.