Cambridge Analytica and You

Our own John Ounpuu has written previously in this newsletter and for MediaPost about the rising tech backlash and its implications for marketers. We don’t have to tell you that the last two weeks have seen that backlash kick into high gear following damning revelations from whistleblower Christopher Wylie. What does all of this mean to you? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • This is the biggest marketing story in years, but we’ve seen remarkably little reaction from marketers. According to Prof. Galloway, that’s because advertisers’ hands are tied: “If Ford announced they were no longer going to advertise on Facebook, they would be commended for their actions in the media and the market would promptly cut 10%+ off their share price.”
  • Mark Ritson has also noted the palpable silence from the marketing world. His explanation is different: “Marketers can say nothing without admitting they have been targeting people in the same way for years.”
  • As Facebook have happily pointed out, their actions fall within the terms and conditions we’ve all agreed to. That may be true, but one study found that it would take 76 days to read all of the privacy policies an average person agrees to in a year. And that was back in 2012.
  • This moment is important because the general public are now realizing the implications of all of these terms and conditions. Specifically, how much personal data companies are collecting about them—and how that data can be misused.
  • Despite the catchy #deletefacebook hashtag, most are not rushing to leave the social network just yet. But a recent Axios survey shows that the company’s favourability is in clear decline.
  • And let’s be clear: this problem is bigger than Facebook. Research from Deloitte shows a strong blowback brewing against data collection and misuse in general.
  • So doing nothing is probably not a great plan. But surely marketers have options here besides silence and inaction? Of course we do. Our advice: start by heeding this call-to-action from Alexandra Samuel: “It’s time to start building marketing cultures that treat data with respect”.
  • Mark Hurst has some more good advice. Instead of chasing short term business gains (and abusing customer data in the process) he suggests marketers make a conscious choice to treat customers well over the long term. If more marketers follow this path, more of us will be freer to speak out and act on this rising issue—confident in the knowledge that we’re part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Issue #41
Apr 1, 2018

Further Reading