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Optus CMO Melissa Hopkins: data overload has created 'incredibly lazy' marketers, wayward tactics

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

13 May 2020 3min read

Optus CMO Melissa Hopkins says marketers need to "get off their asses" and find new data solutions as impending regulations come into effect locally.

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

13 May 2020 3min read

Optus CMO Melissa Hopkins says digital advertising and the way brands have collected and used data has forced marketers to become "incredibly lazy". She says the recent "spamming and spraying" by companies throughout COVID is a perfect example of the impact that it has had on effective consumer engagement.

What you need to know:

  • Optus CMO Melissa Hopkins says collection and use of data has forced marketers to become "incredibly lazy".
  • Additionally, she says the "spam and spray" that consumers have copped digitally by brands during the current crisis has been a prime example of data being used irresponsibly.
  • Hopkins says as the cookie meltdown commences, marketers need to prepare to "get off their asses" and find their own data solutions rather than waiting for help to come to them.
  • Former Cambridge Analytica whistleblower turned data and privacy advocate Brittany Kaiser says marketers must prepare for the effects of the cookie fallout leading to restricted access to typical online and offline data sets.
  • She says the opportunity for brands now lies in creating a transparent first-party data relationship with consumers, while also looking to improve compliance measures.
  • Verizon Media Head of Data Dan Richardson says marketers face an "identity ID arms race" as multiple data vendors look to provide their own 'unique' solutions.

 

Lazy marketing mechanics

Speaking on the first Verizon Media Identity Decoded webinar, titled Privacy or Precision, Optus CMO Melissa Hopkins, Former Cambridge Analytica whistleblower and subject of the Netflix film The Great Hack, Brittany Kaiser, and Verizon Media Head of Data Dan Richardson delved into the impacts that changes to data regulations and collection will have on marketers.

Hopkins came out swinging, noting the changes caused by the surge in data collection and use by brands in recent years. She says the excess of data and its application in digital communication has "forced marketers to become incredibly lazy".

She says while Optus cares about customer data, the focus has swung too heavily to "the individual"rather than the overarching trends in their datasets.

"Digital advertising and how we’ve used data has forced marketers to become incredibly lazy. If you just go back 100 years or so on the basis of sales and marketing, it’s about building a trusted customer relationship. We need to get back to doing that," Hopkins says. "I really don’t care about the individual. I know that sounds harsh when I’m looking at things like marketing return on investment (MROI)."

"I care deeply about their data but I want the trends. Often we go in discussing the use of data without discussing what we want the outcome to be. When we focus on the outcome we can start building safer data sets. For Optus it is about data integrity and the opportunity we have to be relevant, know who our audience is and be really clear when we are building that relationship with them."

Hopkins says the recent digital marketing strategy by brands during the COVID-19 crisis has been a key example of where marketers have been lazy by "spamming and spraying" consumers with daily messages of support.

She says there have been countless examples where brands have likely lost subscribers due to constant, sometimes daily messages of support.

"The biggest challenge when it comes to data and personalization is that we are not respecting people when we are spraying and preying on them with digital and comms. COVID is the best example of that, with customers being spammed by businesses telling them how they are going to support consumers through this," Hopkins says.

"The company in Australia that provides my bedding, I really don’t want them spamming me every day about how much they care. That is brands taking data and using it the wrong way. It’s not about people hacking in, it’s about marketers being irresponsible with their relationship."

Martin Brown, Nestlé's director of e-business, strategy and marketing previously said on a webinar with the AANA, discussing a similar topic, that it was surprising how some of industry still needed to be reminded of marketing fundamentals. Brown said during a time like this, a sense of urgency to "get out there and talk" can muddle a brand's message.

 

Cookie fallout and ID 'furphies'

Kaiser, who since departing Cambridge Analytica has set up data advocacy Own Your Data Foundation, says the fallout for marketers as the cookie meltdown begins, and further government regulations around data such as GDPR come into effect, will see brands dealing with limited access to typical data sets.

She says the more ethical brands are the more trustworthy relationships they are going to have with consumers, especially in the marketing community where "so much of digital marketing ends up with fraud".

"The typical access that you could get from offline data sets to online data sets generated by cookies is going to be a more difficult over the next few years as we figure out what ethical compliance looks like," Kaiser says.

"There is of course compliance with the law which is the bare minimum you should be doing for data protection and with cybersecurity standards. Then there is ethics on top of that which is even if the law allows you to do it, should your company be using data in that way?"

Kaiser says marketers should already be thinking ahead about self-regulation and holding themselves to higher moral and ethical data standards, rather than simply meeting the legal requirements if they are to drive stronger ROI through open and transparent communications.

Coming from a publisher perspective, Verizon's Dan Richardson says marketers need to be prepared for a tough conversation around universal ID solutions, which would see every online user carry a distinct ID filled with their preferences, restrictions and online behaviours.

Labelling the concept an "industry furphy", he says the end goal will instead see data providers enter an "identity arms race".

"For marketers, the solution to [the end of cookies] has been the universal ID proposition which conveys peoples' preferences and consent across the internet in this magical and seamless experience," he said. "The trouble is, this concept is a total furphy. What you actually have is an identity arms race and there’s over a dozen providers who are racing to have the best identity solution to keep marketers going.

"For advertisers, the best identity solution is one which they can use flexibly, which they can apply across the whole internet that’s not walled into one provider’s garden. For publishers, we need to maintain our revenue, so ECPMs and fill rates, but overall the best solution that will help us tackle this issue is logged in, first-party data for accuracy, combined with a depth of data across the supply and demand of the ecosystem."

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By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

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