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Intelligence Briefs

MFA EX: Why an Ikon agency exec deleted her Facebook app and why it matters

Industry Contributor

Sarah Tucker, Head of Marketing and Communications
Foxtel Media

21 October 2019 5min read

In September 2018 Ikon's Suryabala Shenbagamurthy’s Facebook account was exposed in a major user security breach on the platform. So she deleted the app and she hasn’t been back since. 

Her experience isn’t unique. But it was the catalyst for her presentation around how data privacy is changing the marketing landscape at the inaugural MFA EX conference last week.  

According to Suryabala, a performance manager at Ikon, if agencies and marketers don’t build stronger brand transparency and trust, they are destined to miss out on attracting and keeping customers in what is becoming an increasingly complex and disrupted landscape for digital marketers.

My Takeout

It’s harsh, but let’s face it: consumers are lazy about protecting their own data. So the big question is, why should marketers care? 

A few years ago, when GDPR was all the rage, I attended a half day workshop hosted by a law firm in the city to get a better understanding of the policy. What it was, how it would affect marketers, and the key steps we needed to do to ensure we were compliant. 

I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would I voluntarily spend half a day with a bunch of lawyers? Surely there was enough written in the press and posted online for me to explore. Well besides the fact law firms always have a good pastry selection, and I am partial to a chocolate croissant, it was a great way to hear about the changes without a ‘sales’ lens. 

Sure, there was a tonne of information and detail, and my colleague and I walked out feeling a tad overwhelmed, but just like Suryabala’s presentation, it brought to life one really important thing. At the end of the day, we, the marketing community, are responsible for informing our customers and other stakeholders about how data is being collected. 

Why? Because we are the ones that are providing the content platforms, creating the apps and building the online web stores. We’re luring consumers to our sites in exchange for the sale of a good or service. 

Suryabala quoted that when signing up to an app,  90 per cent of consumers accept the terms and conditions without reading them. Many of us, despite the GDPR’s efforts to protect consumers with cookie notifications, just click accept so we can get on with the task at hand. I know I’m guilty of it. 

In fact, I recently allowed an app permission to see my personal information on Facebook because I needed a certain plugin on my phone. It bothered me at the time, but I still did it because the need for the plugin outweighed the concern that the app would have access to my name and profile picture. I justified it by telling myself the information was already out there, so what’s one more app, eh? 

It’s scary how we rationalise these decisions and Suryabala’s summation hits the nail on the head: “When push comes to shove, we are happy to accept the consequences of sharing our data to get what we need.” 

I can guarantee you if I put it to a vote amongst my friends, colleagues and family members, they would all feel the same way. 

Don’t get me wrong, consumers should absolutely be more diligent and should care more about where and what data is shared, but as Suryabala said, it’s up to the marketing community to make sure we’re doing the right thing with the information we’ve been granted. It’s a lot of power, whether consumers realise what they’ve given away or not. And we shouldn’t abuse that power just for a sale. 

Instead, let’s use the limitless access to data points we have to build smarter ways of targeting, measuring and attributing our marketing campaigns in a responsible manner. With the introduction of new data privacy systems like Apple’s Intelligent tracking prevention (ITP), it’s only going to become harder for marketers. But, these changes shouldn’t give licence to push harder and market more aggressively. Because, as like Suryabala said, if you don’t build trust with your consumers you will drive them off your platform for good.

Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Sarah Tucker, Head of Marketing and Communications
Foxtel Media

Over the past ten years Sarah has developed successful marketing and communication strategies for Australian entrepreneurs, start-ups and B2B brands, with her experience spanning across both the UK and Australia. 

Sarah joined Foxtel Media (then MCN) in May 2015 as Group Marketing Manager and in 2018 was promoted to Head of Marketing and Communications, responsible for leading both the internal and external communications function for Australia’s largest advertising representation company. In her role she is responsible for steering the organisation through major change, including a rebrand – and was instrumental in the renovation of one of Sydney’s most historic venues, the Academy Twin theatre into an interactive media hub: Foxtel on Oxford. 

Sarah’s achievements has led to her being recognised as one of Australia’s leading marketing and communications specialists. Named one of AdNews’s Emerging Leaders in 2019 she has also received multiple industry award nominations.