New data tool aims to show why the only way is ethics

data_security2Client marketers who fear they could soon be drowning in the stormy waters of data ethics have been thrown a lifeline with the development of a new tool designed to determine whether a particular dataset will see them sink or swim.

It was the EU’s top data protection chief, the late Giovanni Buttarelli, who first raised the issue of data ethics in 2018 when he questioned the morality of companies that do just enough to comply with the law in their quest to exploit the use of personal data.

Since then, it has become one of the key data protection challenges businesses face. According to a survey of the World Federation of Advertisers’, published last summer, the vast majority (74%) of chief marketing officers acknowledge data ethics will be more important to their role in the next five years.

With this in mind, Group M has struck a partnership with Unilever to develop The Data Ethics Compass, which is in the final round of testing before being released to the market. Unilever is collaborating with Group M and Mindshare on product feedback and how to implement the process in media planning and buying.

The tool is claimed to offer brands a consistent approach to ensure their data-driven marketing campaigns are not only legal but pass the increasingly crucial “data ethics” test.

Group M global senior vice president for data strategy and partnerships Krystal Olivieri said: “A lot of companies have put out policies about data ethics principles, but every time you change a minor input, it changes the analysis, We needed something a bit more prescriptive to ebb and flow across different use cases.”

“We use the cool vs. creepy factor. If you had to stand in a room with 500 people, would you offend people in that room, or be comfortable with that tactic?”

In the beta version, agencies can verify how the data has been collected and determine an ethical “risk score”. If an issue is flagged up, the scheme produces a scorecard of what triggered the potential problem so the agency can explain to the client why the data set is ethically dubious.

Olivieri added: “This is a guide to show how Group M is thinking about these combinations, but it’s not a stop gate. It allows us to go back to clients with a more informed decision.”

Group M plans to continue developing the tool by creating tailored versions and adding more data points to the platform. Olivieri concluded: “This tool was built to bring some empathy back into the process, and with the notion that, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

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