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Making monetization work in a new era for data consent

4 min. Read

A strong data monetization strategy is a vital revenue channel for any telco.

With the right tools, you can take the trillions of first-party data points you collect on your customers and deliver critical insight that partners can use to provide more personalized messaging that offers a better return on investment.

However, a key challenge for these firms is ensuring the data that’s ingested into their systems is managed carefully and user privacy is respected at all times. And this task is not made any simpler by a growing raft of regulations and the expectations of end-users.

The issues surrounding user consent

One of the biggest issues surrounding this is that traditional consent models are broken. 

While privacy and consent aren’t the same thing, for many consumers, they are interchangeable as this is the way they experience it – and for many, there’s a major lack of trust and faith in providers to handle their data sensitively. Therefore, any privacy strategy must factor in what customers think about consent.

Traditionally, consent has been an all-or-nothing affair. If consumers wanted to use a product or service, they had no choice but to click ‘accept’ to reams of terms and conditions and end-user agreements that could run into tens of thousands of words. This has left a lot of distrust among many consumers which remains today. There is still a perception that the idea of user consent is a take-it-or-leave-it model that users have no choice but to accept.

New alternatives are emerging, albeit driven by privacy regulations and the threat of fines more than anything else. But the idea that customers are able to pick and choose which elements of their data they make available is still impractical. For instance, when it comes to tracking cookies online under GDPR, some sites offer a simple ‘accept/reject all’ option, while others require users to go into a menu and explicitly opt-out of anything they don’t want. 

As a result, the convenience of ‘accept all’ still wins out for many. This clearly isn’t a sustainable solution, which is why efforts by tech players like Apple to end the use of cookies look set to change the landscape again.

What this means for the use of data – even first-party data such as weblogs – is that consent isn’t really consent – it’s a box customers feel they have to tick in order to proceed. Therefore, even if on paper, you have users’ permission to process their data, you can’t view this as a green light to use it however you see fit.

Balancing monetization with privacy

So what must telcos do to ensure their data monetization activities can function well in this new environment, without compromising on customer expectations or falling foul of regulations like GDPR and CCPA?

It’s vital to take a holistic approach to consent and privacy that balances the needs of both parties. Customers want and expect their personal information to be protected as strongly as possible, but at the same time, they expect highly personalized interactions. This can run counter to the needs of providers, for whom personal details are essential in actually delivering on user expectations.

As a result, it’s vital to find a fair balance. Yes, you need to champion user privacy to build trust and keep customer loyalty. But if you’re doing this at the expense of giving companies the insight they need to tailor their messaging, this will also lead to problems. Generic, impersonal campaigns will result in poor returns on investment and frustrate customers who have become accustomed to a high level of service. If they don’t get this, they may well take their business elsewhere.

Maintaining control of your data

However, the fact is that although many consumers do care deeply about their privacy, they are often willing to allow the use of their personal data if they can see they’re getting something out of it. Indeed, 90 percent of customers are willing to share personal data if they get some benefits in return.

This means that when it comes to data monetization activities, there remains huge potential for telcos to take advantage of their first-party customer data, provided it’s done in the right way. There are several elements that any data monetization platform needs to have in order to achieve this.

The first is full visibility and traceability. Being able to see exactly who is accessing customer data, where it’s coming from and going to, and how it’s being used is vital in an era where consent may not always be obvious. Importantly, this should also be able to identify different types of data and if it’s being mishandled.

Just because you can process certain data elements, this doesn’t mean you should. Being able to filter out key categories that may be ethically dubious to use – even if permission has technically been given – is vital in keeping personally identifiable data protected while still giving partners all the deep insight they need to tailor their marketing messages on a truly personal level.

Find out more about how Intent HQ’s privacy-first approach can help you take a holistic approach to personalization that’s fit for the current era.

Image credit: iStock/oatawa