Is your data in safe hands?

By Jalaja RamanunniThe Advertising Business Group (ABG) Research Committee and Ipsos have been studying the levels of data privacy awareness in the GCC and ways to enhance best practices in the era of Web 3.0.

The amount and types of data our economies generate has grown exponentially over the last decade, so has the ways it can be processed and used. Such transformation has greatly raised societal concerns around the protection of consumers and users’ privacy and personal data.

The ABG research committee teamed up with Ipsos in the UAE to conduct research on the level of understanding, level of acceptance and readiness to such a big change to the advertising industry – focusing on market experts and consumers.

The research highlighted five key elements that stakeholders believe can help form the solution in future:

  • It is a priority to collect, analyse and utilise first party data since the stronger the set of data, the stronger the profile of audiences.
  • E-commerce as an advertisement enabler exploring data partnerships and collaborative ads.
  • Contextual advertising with premium publishers creating more quality and relevant content.
  • New measurement methods through modeling and the combination of online and offline tools. Going beyond campaign metrics since measurement like ‘reach’ will become a lot more difficult and be based on probabilistic models.
  • Enriched consumer engagement and experiences throughout the campaign funnel – potentially using Web 3.0 tools such as blockchain to provide more control to consumers of their data.

Publishers will require support in developing and storing their first party data and all members will need more understanding of how cohorts work, privacy solutions to reduce data breaches and global best practices around data governance while bridging the gap between advertising on Web 2.0 and 3.0.

According to the regional findings, around half of the people have a sense of comfort and trust in sharing their personal data and information online.

People are willing to share similar information on the internet as they would share at physical stores – credentials relating to their e-mail, first name and last name. A low fraction of the people are willing to give away their biometrics or financial information, indicating that people are apprehensive about sharing certain types of personal information.

Generally, Saudis seem be more informed about their data privacy rights than UAE residents. About 39 per cent of Saudi residents are more familiar with the 2018 GDRP laws implemented by the EU compared to 27 per cent of UAE residents.

However, 50 per cent of internet users among UAE residents and local Saudis are knowledgeable about the topic as they claim to be well aware of where their personal data and information is collected and stored.

Around 6 out 10 of UAE and Saudi residents are aware of some of the tools and features that they can utilise in order to have control over their personal data and information and 68 per cent feel more in control of their data if brands allowed them to manage and access it.

Overall, around 75 per cent of people in the region have high trust in the country they currently reside in to protect their data, showing high levels of trust in their governments to safeguard their data; more than half of internet users are confident sharing their personal information with governmental websites and major platforms such as Google, Amazon and YouTube.

Although there is a high sense of trust and security felt within the region when it comes to consumers’ data privacy, the majority (7 out of 10) of the public believe that sharing information and data should be restricted to trusted websites and brands only and not for every platform or store.

An Ipsos spokesperson said: “Although the elimination of third-party cookies could be perceived as a direct threat to a brand’s marketing strategies, we believe this will encourage businesses to reconsider how they interact with their audiences and spur a new wave of marketing creativity.”

Leyal Eskin Yilmaz, vice president – ABG chair and Unilever vice president – head of personal care business Arabia, said the report was “thorough” combining GCC consumer and expert views. Yilmaz said, “The responsible management of consumer data is imperative if brands and organisations want to gain their consumers’ trust. The recommendations encapsulated in this report are a must for companies that want to be data driven and future proof their operations.”

Tarek Elnagdy, CMI director PC MET and Arabia CMI market lead, Unilever, said the report is an “eye opener” on the level of engagement and understanding which consumers have towards data privacy in the GCC. “The report is fortified with expert views and recommendations for the inspiration of every marketeer,” Elnagdy said.

Amine Al-Adem, head of insights, Mindshare MENA, said, “With every change comes new opportunities. Perhaps it is time to go back to the fundamentals of brand building.

The report can be viewed here.