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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.

IPA Bellwether: UK marketing budgets flat-line

Hopes of a sustained revival were extinguished in the second quarter of 2019 as firms reported no change to available marketing budget expenditure amid growing political and economic uncertainty.

Following a return to growth in the opening quarter of the year, buoyed by firms taking a more pro-active approach to offset risks to their businesses, latest Bellwether data signalled a stalling of growth, with the net balance falling from +8.7% to +0.0%.

The 20% of panel members reporting greater marketing spend was completely offset by those cutting expenditure, while the remaining 60% kept budgets unchanged since Q1.

Growing economic uncertainty, continued ambiguity over Brexit and additional risk through a change of political leadership in the UK were mentioned by firms as factors expected to challenge the business environment over the coming year.

This created hesitancy among clients and delayed decision making. Panel members also raised concerns that difficult conditions domestically were damaging consumer confidence and impacting consumption.

Businesses were also wary of headwinds from external sources, particularly spillover effects into UK markets from global trade disputes and weaker growth at key export destinations such as Europe and Asia.

Nevertheless, marketing executives were given extra discretion over internet-based advertising in the second quarter, as signalled by a net balance of +11.5% of firms reporting budget growth (+17.2% in Q1). Within internet, search/SEO budgets also grew solidly (net balance of +9.9% from +14.2%).

Main media advertising budgets were also given a boost in the second quarter, as some firms used big ticket marketing campaigns to build brand recognition and expand customer bases. There were also suggestions that marketing was being deployed as a defensive strategy due to increased competitive pressures. Overall, a net balance of +5.6% of companies reported greater main media marketing budgets (+5.2% in Q1).

The only other Bellwether category to register growth in the second quarter was events. The net balance increased to +4.8%, from +3.4% previously, its highest since the first quarter of 2018 and corroborating with forecasts made earlier in the year that events budgets would grow over the 2019/20 financial year.

Meanwhile, available market research spend was reduced for a sixteenth successive quarter (net balance of -2.9% from -4.2%), while PR budgets were also cut (net balance of -5.2% from +0.0%). A second successive downward revision to sales promotion budgets was also recorded (-7.1% from -3.7%). Aside from the ‘other’ advertising category (net balance of -12.8% from -5.4%), it was direct marketing which was the worst performer, with the net balance falling to -9.0% (-3.5% previously), the lowest level in over ten years.

Panel members remained negative regarding financial prospects in the second quarter, casting more downbeat assessments towards both industry-wide and company-own finances than seen during the opening quarter of 2019.

With precisely 34% of marketing executives reporting a pessimistic outlook towards finances in their industry, compared to approximately 8% that were optimistic, the resulting net balance (-25.6%) signalled the second-most negative assessment since the fourth quarter of 2011 (surpassed only by the Q4 2018 reading of -28.6%). Furthermore, this was down from a net balance of -22.6% seen in Q1.

Latest data also pointed to deeper negativity towards own-company financial prospects. The net balance fell to -9.8%, from -2.7% in the first quarter, signalling the highest degree of pessimism since Q4 2011.

Bellwether remains cautious towards 2019, expecting only a modest 1.1% annual increase in adspend over the year as a whole. Various factors underpin its reservation, namely ongoing Brexit uncertainty, but also recent developments in the UK economy, which this year so far have largely been negative. It cites there is a real possibility that the UK economy will contract in the second quarter, and the Bellwether panel comments, as well as latest Bellwether data, highlight that businesses are looking to contain costs and shield against challenging demand conditions.

Nevertheless, Bellwether believes businesses will be eager to accelerate marketing efforts once uncertainty has cleared, and subsequently see 2020 onwards being more positive on the adspend front. It expects growth of 1.8% in 2020, followed by stronger rates of increase in 2021 (2.0%), 2022 (2.2%) and 2023 (3.1%).

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

SME GDPR compliance only ‘skin-deep’

72% of UK SMEs report being ‘very aware’ of GDPR and its requirements, but 60% say that the recent changes to data protection have had a ‘slight’ or ‘no’ impact on their business, while 8% do not know.

The figures, from a survey commissioned by Shred-it, have revealed a positive understanding and engagement with the principles of GDPR among SMEs on its first anniversary, but also highlight a possible cosmetic understanding and key areas of concern around the more complex aspects of full compliance.

The independent survey of 1439 SMEs comprised a series of unprompted questions and covered a range of businesses in specific market sectors across the United Kingdom with 85% having 10 to 49 employees.

When asked about GDPR readiness nine in ten rated themselves as a ‘4’ or ‘5’ out of 5; the main actions taken were reviewing policies (45%) and emailing customers for consent (35%). These are considered to be the lighter ‘front end’ aspects of GDPR compliance according to Shred-it’s experts.

The survey data showed that one third (32%) of SMEs reported that GDPR has had a ‘great’ or ‘considerable’ impact on their business. When those businesses that had experienced challenges with GDPR compliance were probed further, they cited data breaches and disclosure requirements as the main challenges, with healthcare (27%) and real estate (25%) the main industries affected with those specific areas. Small proportions also reported issues with subject access requests, again with healthcare (28%) and real estate (15%) being the main industries affected.

Ian Osborne, Vice President UK & Ireland for Shred-it, said: “On the surface it is good news. It is clear that many feel they are already compliant with GDPR having reviewed areas such as ‘consent’ activities and publishing a privacy notice. These typically deal with the ‘front end’ aspects of GDPR. However, while many say they are ready, there is a real question mark over the extent to which the majority of SMEs are prepared to respond to a data breach or how to react to a subject access request, for example. Our survey suggests that there is still a need for a large education exercise to show SMEs what is really involved in GDPR compliance at depth.”

Of the 10% that said they were ‘not quite’ or ‘not at all’ ready, who rated themselves as a ‘1’ to ‘3’ out of 5, 42% (54 businesses) said they have not been dealing with it; when asked what was holding them back, their unprompted reasons were that data protection authorities were ‘only interested in bigger companies’, it was ‘not applicable to us’, it was ‘too complicated’, and they were ‘too busy’. Of the 10%, two in five would only trust someone in-house to help them comply with GDPR – only one in ten would consider external support and only 4% would trust the data protection authority for assistance. The SMEs that would consider external support were unsure what services they needed and when they would intend to look for support.

In the twelve months between 25th May 2018 and 2019 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, has taken 59 enforcement actions.

Osborne added: “Our survey seems to show two clear pictures emerging. One is where the majority of SMEs are genuinely engaged with the process of compliance; within that group there are many who believe they are already compliant but may have missed some key more complex parts of the GDPR. It is the minority in that group who have recognised its greater challenges and are wrestling with its more complex areas. The other is one where some SMEs recognise they are not ready, seem unwilling to address the issue of GDPR compliance and are reluctant to seek support in any form to help them. When the relevant authority’s fines become more common headlines across the UK, we expect that views may change about what compliance really means.”

6 killer marketing metrics that really matter

By Adam Oldfield, MD of Force24

The life of a digital marketer is rarely straightforward. Whilst other communicators may perhaps argue it’s easier for their digital peers to evidence ROI, those within the world of email marketing, for instance, may be quick to defend their position.

Because yes, they have a wealth of metrics at their fingertips, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Rather than focusing on what is arguable a vanity metric – like a click rate or, even worse, an email open – it’s important that marketers look deeper at the data to offer a true bottom line impact.

Insight relating to a brand’s data subjects, list segmentation, and the evolution of those segments, will help a marketer to understand what excites people and drives them to engage. Instead of asset-based reporting, professionals should therefore be concentrating on audience reporting, to assess campaign performance through a user’s eyes.

But how do marketing departments get these bottom up metrics that matter?

  1. Segments are key

Not exactly a metric in itself, but the data that matters can’t be uncovered until segments have been built to see how they are performing, how they’re growing (or shrinking) over time, and what the average lead score is. The more segments created – the better. Automation should make this possible in only a few easy clicks.

  1. Lead score matters the most

‘Lead scoring matters only for B2B marketers’ is a huge myth! Savvy lead scoring takes ALL engagement from any type of user. A points-system should be set so it can be tallied and a pre-defined ‘tipping point’ – tailored to the brand – should trigger when to act. Lead scores help to decide exactly who to focus on at any given time.

  1. Analyse average lead scores per segment

The average lead score of a segment may peak and trough over time. This data can be used to draw engagement curves that indicate seasonality, optimum purchase times, crucial cross-sell periods and when an existing customer is most likely to re-book/buy. This type of analysis also helps to quickly identify strong or weak segments within a data set. It also helps draw correlations between lead scores and campaigns, web activity and, most importantly, the number of leads actually secured. 

  1. Segment evolution

It is important to understand how a list is growing or shrinking – is the data in a segment diminishing, for example? And what might this mean? 

  1. User web engagement

We know browsing behaviour gives us a deeper insight into a user’s interests and needs, but only one in six organisations use it effectively. Web collateral should therefore be designed to support this information gathering, and engagement across this online real-estate should be analysed.

  1. User marketing preferences

It’s just as important to understand what your segment does NOT want to see – you’ll be surprised by the level of variation between data sets.