Pushing back on brand influence - leave me and my customer journey alone!

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Oct 18, 2019

via Flickr © Petr Sejb (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © Petr Sejb (CC BY 2.0)

  • New global research from Accenture Interactive urges CMOs to put people before data 
  • It points out that nearly 69% of consumers would stop doing business with a brand if data usage became too invasive

The long awaited pushback against overly intrusive online advertising and ‘engagement’ driven by personal data collection might be starting. We hope it is. 

New global research released by Accenture Interactive has led the organisation to offer  “guidance to chief marketing officers (CMOs) on strategies to use data respectfully and responsibly at a time when a majority of consumers (69%) would not do business with a brand if their data usage was invasive.”

Well yes. And it may be a bit late for that.

Accenture says that “as the industry celebrates the 25th anniversary of what has been celebrated as one of the first digital banner advertisements and as digital advertising has given rise to unprecedented amounts of first party data, Accenture Interactive’s 2019 Consumer Pulse Survey which surveyed over 8,000 consumers globally, offers greater insight into how brands are creating paths to success with digital advertising campaigns. 

“Today’s leading brands are using data not only to make relationships with customers more relevant and useful but more meaningful too — creating experiences with a purpose — and learning where to draw the line between invasive and inventive,” said Glen Hartman, head of Accenture Interactive, North America and global digital marketing lead. “The good news is there is a big opportunity for brands to take a thoughtful approach to data and create an impactful customer experience while doing so – building trust and an emotional connection customers crave.”

Well that’s the gentle, brand friendly interpretation. The more scathing TelecomTV one is that most of us, most of the time, are sick of brands hitting on us to try and build a meaningful relationship. That’s why we’re going to great lengths to block them.

So what does this data actually say?

Data in exchange for transparency 

Accenture’s  research finds that around 73% of consumers are willing to share more personal information if brands are transparent about how it is used, up from 66% in 2018. Accenture reckons that represents an opportunity for brands that provide consumers with value for their data, ensure the brand won’t lose or abuse their data and recognize consumers in a way that puts them at ease.

“The research findings pose a question to brands when thinking about data: ‘Has data collection gone too far?’” said Scott Tieman, global lead for Programmatic Services, Accenture Interactive. “Many consumers report that brands don’t know them well enough to serve them in a way that makes them feel special, but when brands seem to know too much — and act on that knowledge — they can inadvertently lose consumers’ trust. We are at an important point in digital advertising where brands need to be purposeful with their data acquisition approach that is transparent and good for the brand – and the consumer.”

 Accenture claims that the research finds that among consumers who said a brand had communicated in a way that was too personal, over 71% said it was because a brand had information about them or their family that they didn’t share directly.

As the report notes, “People expect someone they’ve never met not to recognize them and the same logic applies digitally. Forward-thinking brands are finding ways to approximate how humans behave, in a humane and ethical way.”

Data gathering, within reason

The research found consumers want brands to know and understand them; 87% of consumers said it’s important to purchase from a brand or retailer that “understands the real me.”

However, consumers don’t want brands to go too far and violate their privacy. More than 75% of consumers say they are uncomfortable with data collection via microphone or voice assistant and 51% said invasive ads are on the rise. Nearly 30% of consumers said a brand had gotten “too personal” – and 69% of these consumers would stop doing business with a brand or reconsider their relationship to the brand because of this. More than nine out of 10 consumers (93%) agree it’s important that every interaction with a brand is “excellent.”

The demand for a seamless experience

Consumers would like to be treated holistically and see their entire experience improve, the research found. To achieve this, brands should focus on consumers’ experiences at every interaction during the customer journey, from websites and mobile apps to physical stores and the retail experience.

Oh no. That seems to be an exhortation to collect even more data. 

Don’t do it brands. From my personal survey of a few friends and relatives, nobody wants greedy corporations focusing on every interaction during their “customer journeys”. They just want companies to sell them things without plaguing them with ads, hounding them with spam notifications and building more data about those mythical customer journeys. Get over yourselves or we’ll all get over you.

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