Leading brands are using data to humanize their customer relationship and learning where to draw the line between invasive and inventive.
By Scott Tieman & Javier Pérez Moiño | Accenture
Many consumers feel brands don’t know them well enough to serve them in a way that makes them feel special, but when those brands seem to know too much—and act on that knowledge—they can quickly lose consumers’ trust.
As first-party data takes hold and the industry marks the 25th anniversary of what has been celebrated as one of the first digital banners, Accenture Interactive’s 2019 Consumer Pulse Survey offers greater insight into how brands are creating paths to success with digital advertising campaigns. We surveyed 8,000 consumers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US to find out their answers.
Our research focused on three areas:
- What are consumers’ experiences with digital advertising?
- What are the drivers of consumers’ online purchases?
- What are the most effective data-driven marketing efforts and challenges?
A big opportunity
Many consumers feel the automated techniques brands are using to serve them are not effective. The algorithmic recommendations brands make to them, based on their demographics and past behaviors and purchases, don’t accurately reflect their intention.
The good news is that there is a big opportunity for brands to take a more mindful approach to data collection and to design a holistic customer experience while doing so.
Brands that treat data collection and data strategy as part of the consumer experience can benefit from greater consumer willingness to share information. Providing consumers with value for their data, ensuring that the brand won’t lose or abuse their data, and recognizing consumers in a way that puts them at ease is all part of a better experience.
Data gathering, within reason
Consumers increasingly expect brands’ digital advertising to show they are known and recognized, as long as there is transparency around what the brands are doing with their data. We found that 87% of consumers said it’s important to purchase from a brand or retailer that “understands the real me.” However, consumers don’t want brands to go too far and violate their privacy. They have preferences for how they want brands to interact with them digitally, and those preferences may vary with demographic factors, such as age and gender.
- 73% of consumers are willing to share more personal information if brands are transparent about how it is used, up from 66% in 2018.
- 76% of consumers say they are uncomfortable with data collection via microphone or voice assistant.
- 30% of consumers said a brand had gotten “too personal”—and 69% of these consumers would stop doing business with a brand or reconsider their relationship to the brand because of this.
- 51% among consumers who left a retailer/branded website because of poor personalization think invasive ads are on the rise.
- 93% of consumers agree it’s important that every interaction they have with a brand is excellent, whenever or wherever they happen in the decision to purchase from a brand or retailer.
What consumers want
What many consumers ultimately want is for digital advertising to have the same social intelligence as a familiar salesperson in their favorite store—one who can tell from the expression on their face that they’re in the mood to splurge, or that they’re in a hurry because it’s a Tuesday night and they need to get home to dinner. The brands that approximate that human touch best (using automation) will stand out and win consumer loyalty. Brands that can’t pull it off will feel sterile.
So how can brands hit the mark? Effective strategies include:
- Full transparency.
- Smart use of walled gardens
- Create a cohesive experience
- Behave like a human
- Correctly attribute digital ad results
Brands also need to pay close attention to the evolution of privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as they make advertising decisions. What should and shouldn’t be done in the current environment will be shaped by how rights granted under these two laws are interpreted. Regulators are starting to impose substantial fines as they enforce GDPR.
Brands must build the data architecture of enterprise systems in a way that reflects current regulations. Ultimately, brands must be respectful of the rights of consumers to get access to their data, be “forgotten,” or request portability. This must be baked into their technology.
The seamless experience
Consumers want to be treated holistically and see the entire experience improve. As a result, brands need to focus on consumers’ experience at every interaction in the customer journey, from websites and mobile apps to physical stores. The data brands gather and how they use it will curate customers’ experiences. At the same time, opting out of collecting or licensing data should not have to be part of the consumer experience.
To create a seamless experience, brands can benefit from:
- Using fresh opt-in alternatives.
- Bringing ad-tech contracts in-house for full transparency.
- Building data architecture aligned with regulations.
Brands should also make sure the approaches they use extend throughout their advertising efforts. Consumers expect companies to take note of all of the information about themselves that they’ve chosen to share, no matter where that takes place.