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Is your data safe? 80% of global organisations expect breaches of customer records

Trend Micro and the Ponemon Institute have revealed the findings of a study which discovered that 86% of global organisations expect to suffer a cyber attack in the next 12 months.

The findings come from Trend Micro’s biannual Cyber Risk Index (CRI) report, which measures the gap between respondents’ cybersecurity preparedness versus their likelihood of being attacked. In the first half of 2021 the CRI surveyed more than 3,600 businesses of all sizes and industries across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

The CRI is based on a numerical scale of -10 to 10, with -10 representing the highest level of risk. The current global index stands at -0.42, a slight increase on last year which indicates an “elevated” risk.

Organizations ranked the top three negative consequences of an attack as customer churn, lost IP and critical infrastructure damage/disruption.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 86% said it was somewhat to very likely that they’d suffer serious cyber-attacks in the next 12 months, compared to 83% last time
  • 24% suffered 7+ cyber attacks that infiltrated networks/systems, versus 23% in the previous report.
  • 21% had 7+ breaches of information assets, versus 19% in the previous report.
  • 20% of respondents said they’d suffered 7+ breaches of customer data over the past year, up from 17% in the last report.

“Once again we’ve found plenty to keep CISOs awake at night, from operational and infrastructure risks to data protection, threat activity and human-shaped challenges,” said Jon Clay, vice president of threat intelligence for Trend Micro. “To lower cyber risk, organizations must be better prepared by going back to basics, identifying the critical data most at risk, focusing on the threats that matter most to their business, and delivering multi-layered protection from comprehensive, connected platforms.”

“Trend Micro’s CRI continues to be a helpful tool to help companies better understand their cyber risk,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, CEO for the Ponemon Institute. “Businesses globally can use this resource to prioritize their security strategy and focus their resources to best manage their cyber risk. This type of resource is increasingly useful as harmful security incidents continue to be a challenge for businesses of all sizes and industries.”

Among the top two infrastructure risks was cloud computing. Global organizations gave it a 6.77, ranking it as an elevated risk on the index’s 10-point scale. Many respondents admitted they spend “considerable resources” managing third party risks like cloud providers.

The top cyber risks highlighted in the report were as follows:

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing and social engineering
  • Fileless attack
  • Botnets

The top security risks to infrastructure remain the same as last year, and include organizational misalignment and complexity, as well as cloud computing infrastructure and providers. In addition, respondents identified customerturnover, lost intellectual property and disruption or damages to critical infrastructure as key operational risks for organizations globally.

The main challenges for cybersecurity preparedness include limitations for security leaders who lack the authority and resources to achieve a strong security posture, as well as organizations struggling to enable security technologies that are sufficient to protect their data assets and IT infrastructure.

ASA publishes latest study into restricted ads in children’s media

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published the findings from its fourth monitoring sweep, as part of a year-long project to identify and tackle age-restricted ads appearing in children’s online media.

Whilst the overwhelming majority of age-restricted ads are targeted responsibly in online media, targeting audiences heavily weighted (75 %+) to adult audiences, a minority end up in children’s online media.

Advertisers placing age-restricted ads online are required, under the Advertising Code, to take care to target their ads away from child audiences. In particular, that means websites and YouTube channels designed for children or that attract a disproportionately high child audience cannot carry age-restricted ads.

The latest report continued what the ASA calls CCTV-style scrutiny of online ads for: gambling, alcohol, e-cigarettes and tobacco, slimming and weight control products and food and soft drinks classified as high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS products).

Since undertaking the monitoring, the UK Government has announced new restrictions on the advertising of HFSS products on TV and online, which are due to take effect from the beginning of 2023. That policy shift does not change the ASA’s responsibility to take action against HFSS ads placed, in breach of the current rules, in children’s media.

Between January and March 2021, using monitoring tools to capture age-restricted ads served on a sample of 49 websites and 12 YouTube channels attracting a disproportionately high child audience, the ASA found that:

  • Overall, 158 age-restricted ads broke the advertising rules; and
  • In total, 41 advertisers placed age-restricted ads in 33 websites and 8 YouTube channels aimed at, or attracting a disproportionately large, child audience.

A breakdown of ads by product category that broke the rules reveals:

Alcohol:

  • 7 alcohol ads by 3 advertisers on 8 websites

Gambling:

  • 29 ads by 3 advertisers on 17 websites

HFSS:

  • 117 ads by 31 advertisers on 31 websites and 8 YouTube channels

Weight reduction:

  • 5 ads by 4 advertisers on 4 websites

Smoking:

  • No ads for e-cigarettes or tobacco products were picked up during this monitoring period

The ASA says its preliminary inspection of the data suggests that the majority of advertisers who it identified breaking the rules in earlier monitoring sweeps have not reoffended. It has warned the advertisers who we have caught in this latest sweep to review and, as necessary, amend their practices to ensure they target future ads responsibly.

Throughout the last year, harnessing innovative monitoring technology as part of a five-year strategy, More Impact Online, has proved effective in helping the ASA identify and tackle irresponsibly placed ads for age restricted products at scale and speed to better protect children.

Social media solutions top marketer buying trends in 2021

Social Media Management and Lead Generation top the list of services the UK’s leading marketing professionals are sourcing in 2021.

The findings have been revealed by the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit and are based on delegate requirements at this month’s event.

Delegates registering to attend were asked which areas they needed to invest in during 2021 and beyond.

A significant 61% are looking to invest in Social Media, followed by Lead Generation & Tracking at 58% and Customer Engagement at 56%.

Just behind were Google Ads (50%) and Email Marketing (47%).

% of delegates at the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit sourcing certain products & solutions (Top 10):

Social Media 61%
Lead Generation & Tracking 58%
Customer Engagement 56%
Google Ads 50%
Email Marketing 47%
Engagement Marketing 47%
Online Strategy 44%
Search Engine Optimisation 50%
Strategy Marketing 44%
Multi-channel Engagement 42%

To find out more about the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit, visit https://digitalmarketingsolutionssummit.co.uk.

Consumers in emerging markets more open to sharing data

Countries like China, Brazil and South Africa are much more open to sharing their personal data with companies than consumers in Western countries, like the UK, France and the US, according to new research from emlyon business school.

The findings come from a global study of over 22,000 online shoppers, which looked into their willingness to share their personal information, like identification and financial data, with companies when purchasing products.

The researchers; Monica Grosso, Associate Professor of Marketing at emlyon, alongside colleagues from Bocconi School of Management, KU Leuven, CEFAM International School of Business and Management and the Center for Service Intelligence, wanted to understand what factors had an impact on the willingness of consumers to share personal data with companies.

The factors they reviewed were: whether the type of product had an impact, whether the country consumers were from had an impact, and whether and how customers could be incentivised to provide further data even if they weren’t willing to in the first place.

Through the survey, the researchers gathered data on over 22,000 shoppers, who were buying products from seven different categories; identification, medical, financial, locational, demographic, lifestyle, and media usage data.

The research also focused on the privacy concerns and willingness of participants in fourteen different countries, ranging from highly individualistic, such as the UK, France, the United States, Canada and Australia, to collectivist nations, including China, Brazil and South Africa.

The researchers also reviewed whether customers were more likely to share their personal data and information if there was some form of compensation for doing so.

Professor Grosso said: “Given sharing personal data online is often on a voluntary basis, it is difficult for companies to persuade customer’s to do so. Not only this, but in the wake of high-profile privacy scandals, customers have become increasingly worried about how organizations store and exploit their personal data. Consumers have therefore become more cautious about sharing such data with retail companies. Therefore understanding the market, and having a full-proof strategy to maximise data sharing of customers is vital for marketing departments”.

The researchers also found that once offered compensation and incentives for sharing their personal data, consumers in all contexts were more likely to provide their data to companies. This compensation and incentives included a tangible benefit for the customers, such as discount coupons or small free gifts, showing that there are clear, effective methods for companies to use to garner more data from their consumers.

Grosso added: “Companies are always keen to secure as much data as they can from their customers in order to inform increase future sales tailor marketing efforts to their needs, and boost customer brand loyalty, but often customers are reluctant and unwilling to provide such data. These results show trust can differ across contexts, and customers can be further encouraged to provide personal data through a number of tailored methods.”

For companies, the research shows that the willingness of consumers to share varies greatly over different countries. Therefore, if companies are looking to collect vital data from their customers in different country contexts, they should adopt different privacy strategies based on the information type, country, and product category.

ICO issued fines of £42million last year

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a number of final civil monetary penalties in 2020, totalling £42,416,000 – The reasons for the fines included breaches of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA). 

The data, contained in the ICO’s ‘work to recover fines’ report and analysed by the Parliament Street Think Tank, reveals a catalogue of fines issued across a variety of sectors.

The analysis shows the scale of the fines highlights the severity of the problem. A total of 17 penalties were issued last year according to official figures. The largest fine was given to British Airways in the transport and leisure sector on 16th October 2020 at a total of £20,000,000 for a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA). This is followed by a fine of £18,400,000, issued to Marriott International Inc on 30th October 2020, also for a breach of the DPA. 

The next largest was to Ticketmaster LTD, with a fine totalling £1,250,000 for data breaches on 13th November 2020. Then, DSG Retail Ltd, CRDNN Limited and Cathay Pacific all received fines totalling £500,000. 

Additionally, CRDNN was with a £500,000 fine on 2nd March 2021 for breaches of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

The industry hit with the biggest fines was marketing with nine fines in total issued, followed by three fines issued to firms in the transport and leisure sector.

Additionally, the ICO issued three court orders for winding-up upon petitions in 2020. Trusted Futures Ltd received a penalty amount of £70,000, Superior Style Home Improvements received a penalty fee of £150,000 and Alistar Green Legal Services Ltd received a penalty fee of £90,000. All three organisations were given court orders in 2020.

Additionally, there were eight directors disqualified following ICO enforcement action in 2020. These directors have been disqualified for a number of years for conduct while acting for various companies.

Charlie Smith, Consultant Solutions Engineer, Barracuda Networks, said: “In today’s digital working environment, data security, recovery and protection is of vital importance. Unfortunately, it has become apparent that many business owners, workers and consumers are not aware of the need for backup and recovery services for their email service providers. Our own research even revealed that 40% of Office 365 users believe that Microsoft provides everything they need to protect their data and software.

“Whilst Office 365 does offer some level of security, even Microsoft suggests using a third party backup to ensure that data is fully protected and retrievable. Without it, organisations can be left prone to accidental data loss and even ransomware attacks. 

“Thus moving forward, organisations should invest in a third-party data backup solution that runs in the cloud, to enable seamless, efficient and comprehensive backup of data on a granular level – allowing lost, stolen or misplaced data to be restored without delay.”

UK entertainment sales driven to new highs by lockdown streaming

Locked down Britain turned to digital music, video and games in record numbers in 2020, increasing entertainment revenues by 16.8% to a record £9.05bn, according to preliminary data compiled by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).   

It was the fastest growth rate since records began, driven above all by digital services, who saw revenues increase by £1.4bn over 2019 to a new high of £7.8bn. 

Digital video services spearheaded by Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video increased revenues by a remarkable 37.7% over 2019 while growing music streaming subscriptions saw recorded music revenues score their best result since 2006.

Gaming comfortably retained its lead as the largest of the three sectors, generating sales of more than £4bn for the first time.

Overall more than 80 pence in the pound spent on entertainment now goes to digital services rather than physical formats. Amid generally declining physical formats, vinyl LPs remain the shining exception, increasing sales by 13.3%. 

ERA CEO Kim Bayley said, “If there was ever a year in which we needed entertainment, it was 2020. The trend towards an increasingly digital entertainment market may be long established, but no one could have foreseen this dramatic leap as digital services filled the gap left by shuttered cinemas, concert halls and retail stores. With much of the country shut down, ERA’s members provided a welcome revenue stream for thousands of musicians, actors, directors and countless backroom staff.”

Digital Insights: Tips to prepare for the Golden Quarter

By twentysix

The peak retail period of October to December (aka The Golden Quarter) isn’t far away and this year it’s going to be an interesting one. Following the “lockdown” disruption, 2020’s peak is going to be a vital sales opportunity for many retailers.

But how can marketers plan ahead when a global pandemic has turned everything upside down? How are consumers going to behave? Will they be in buying mode? Or will the impact of lockdown dampen demand as we’ve seen earlier in the year? Will there be a second wave and what will this mean?

Much of this depends on the course of the virus and as a digital agency, twentysix, we’re not going to attempt to predict that! But amongst the uncertainty, there are things we can still rely on: Christmas is still Christmas; people will still want to buy; and there will be pent up demand and a hunger for deals – all of which will open opportunities for your brand.

With lockdown accelerating online behaviours there is one thing that is certain; digital is going to be an enormous part of the mix for all advertisers. You need to make sure you have the right mix of channels with a solid foundation in search, affiliates and user experience to capture demand, alongside upper funnel activity such as display and social to help create it. But it’s not just about having the channels in place: success will also be about building the agility to adapt to conditions as they unfold – a must in this uncertain environment.

So whether it’s scenario planning, solidifying your technology and tracking foundations, assessing your SEO trajectory, or reviewing your website to ensure your UX is up to scratch, now is the time to start getting ready.

Download twentysix’s guide to the Golden Quarter to unlock 6 key principles to help you create competitive advantage, along with tips from the agency’s digital channel specialists to help you prepare for the most significant quarter of trading we’ll experience for some time.

Download the full guide here

Marketing spend expected to rebound post-COVID

The latest IPA Bellwether Report asserts that ad and marketing spend will rebound in 2021, following budgets being slashed to their lowest levels in twenty years due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The net balance of firms that cut marketing budgets fell to -50.7% in Q2, down from -6.1% in Q1, with almost 64% of panel members having registered a decrease in spending compared to the first quarter, while only 13% posted an increase. These figures supersede the Report’s previous nadir of -41.7% evidenced in Q4 2008, following the global financial crisis.

The report says anecdotal evidence suggests that many businesses were focused on cutting costs amid the severe declines in revenue caused by the pandemic. Although firms utilised the UK government’s furlough scheme to ease the burden of staff costs, other reductions were required in order for many businesses to survive. Service sector companies faced particularly challenging circumstances, with little-to-no access to their clients amid enforced closures.

With coronavirus restrictions prohibiting anything other than small gatherings, funding for events marketing saw the sharpest reduction in the second quarter. A net balance of -76.6% of panellists registered a decline in events budgets, with more than 80% reporting a decrease. Just 3.6% posted a rise.

Main media advertising, crucial for brand exposure, also reported a steep decline in Q2. In fact, the reduction in budgets was the most severe since the survey’s inception, with a net balance of -51.1% of marketing executives seeing a decline in available spend. Underlying data within this main media category suggested the worst performing sub-category was out of home advertising (-61.2%). This was followed by audio (-50.0%), published brands (-49.2%), video (-39.3%) and other online (-35.1%).

Across each of the seven broad marketing types, direct marketing and public relations saw the joint-softest budget cuts in the second quarter, although with net balances of -41.6%, the downturns were still severe overall. Meanwhile, market research (-42.2%), sales promotions (-51.2%) and other marketing expenditure (-59.2%) each saw historic reductions for their respective categories.

Bellwether panellists remained pessimistic towards financial prospects in the second quarter of 2020, casting more downbeat assessments on both own-company and industry-wide finances.

Sentiment on own-company prospects plunged far deeper into negative territory compared to the first quarter, when the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was only just beginning to become apparent. In the second quarter, precisely two-thirds of survey participants reported a pessimistic outlook for finances against 11.5% that expected an improvement, taking the net balance to -55.1%. The result represented the most severe degree of negativity since the fourth quarter of 2008 when the net balance measured -57.7%.

Reporting on industry-wide prospects, firms were also more pessimistic in the second quarter. In the latest survey period, 72.4% of businesses were pessimistic on financial prospects compared to just 6.4% that were optimistic. As a result, a net balance of exactly -66% of firms were downbeat, eclipsing the recent low of -42.0% registered in Q1. The latest reading pointed to the most negative outlook since the final months of 2008, at the nadir of the global financial crisis, when the net balance stood lower at -71.1%.

Following the global coronavirus outbreak and resulting lockdown measures, Bellwether author IHS Markit anticipates steep contractions in several key economic indicators during 2020. With many businesses temporarily closed throughout the majority of the second quarter, IHS Markit is expecting a -11.9% decline in GDP for the year as a whole. This forecast assumes that the gradual easing of UK lockdown measures continues over the coming months, allowing an increasing number of businesses to fully reopen and begin to claw back some of the lost revenue from the months of March, April and May.

Given the current economic climate, the Bellwether model points to a -11.3% reduction in adspend during 2020. However, this figure is heavily dependent on most sectors in the UK economy remaining open for the rest of the year, with a second wave of coronavirus infections a significant downside risk.

Looking forward, IHS Markit anticipates a robust recovery in macroeconomic conditions during 2021 as businesses move closer to operating at full capacity. This would translate into a predicted +4.9% expansion in GDP and implied adspend growth of +6.0%. Beyond that, it expects the economy to achieve above-average growth during a further recovery phase, before stabilising near long-run rates in 2024 and 2025.

Paul Bainsfair, IPA Director General, said: “As we suspected, these Q2 Bellwether figures reveal the very grave impact of COVID-19 on UK companies’ marketing budgets, financial prospects and employment plans. Understandably companies in the most severely disrupted sectors have had few options but to preserve cash and operations to survive until trading conditions are more benign. We can only hope that the range of Government aid – from VAT cuts to the Eat Out scheme, in addition to the furlough scheme and more, can help to facilitate this.

“While the future trajectory of the economy is unpredictable, however, that of brands starved of marketing investment is much clearer. Our evidence from previous recessions and periods of buoyancy consistently shows that cutting marketing investment weakens brands in the near-term and limits growth and profitability in the long-term.”

Two-thirds of consumers ‘Don’t understand how their data is used’

Over half (58%) of consumers want long term relationships with brands, but 33% saw irrelevant retail offers as the biggest marketing mistakes, indicating a personalisation disconnect.

That’s according to the latest APEX report from Valitor, which reveals the key marketing challenges brands will face in using customer data to build relationships.

The study also found that almost half (48%) of consumers think that when it comes to relationship ‘building’, all they see after-sale are spam emails.

In fact, it seems personalisation across the board does not meet expectations. 68% do not know how their data is being used by brands. Valitor says this knowledge gap, combined with the implementation of GDPR and the ongoing discussions of data being used in political discussions, has spiked consumer interest in data use and privacy.

However, while interest has increased, the actual use of data by brands is creating uncertainty, confusion and setting unachievable expectations about the sort of interactions customers should expect. 

Halldór Lúðvígsson, Managing Director, Omni-channel solutions at Valitor, said: “The latest APEX report reveals that consumers want a long term relationship with brands, which is clearly an opportunity that needs to be pursued. To succeed in establishing relationships, brands need to show customers that by having their data, they are able to create the long term value they crave. Currently, though many consumers feel brands’ efforts are missing the mark, which is risking weakening customer retention.”

The good news for brands, however, is that consumers are still happy to provide them with personal data, as long as it is used in the right way. In fact, 75% of consumers are comfortable with the concept of a brand holding personal information in order to improve the services and relationship. Consumers also revealed that they are most willing to share email addresses (42%), followed by clothing size (29%). But in order to keep consumers happy, brands need to ensure that they use this data wisely if they are to encourage the sharing of more types of information. 

Meanwhile, the outdated practice of getting data and then taking a “spray and pray approach” has clearly had negative effects on consumers. For example, over a third (34%) of consumers say that they have been made to feel like a brand no longer wants to impress them once they have parted with their money. Another third (33%) aren’t convinced brands still care about them after the sale is done. While a quarter (25%) highlight the fact that occasional offers are not the same as a proper customer service relationship. 

Other key report findings:-

  • The 18-35 age group is far more confident in their understanding of how brands use their data (18-25 were 40%; 26-35 were 43%) compared to the 66+ age group (19%).
  •  44% of consumers take notice of marketing communications from a brand:
    • 56% take notice of emails 
    • 46% notice free samples/trials 
  • 52% of 18-25 years – the highest proportion of all age groups (and the emerging customer base for many brands) – are receptive to messaging from brands. 
  • The oldest consumers, 56-65 and 66+ are the least likely to pay attention to brand marketing.

Download the full report here.