Too good to be forgotten

Too good to be forgotten

At the end of last year there was just one point separating us from taking number one slot in the local pub’s music quiz. But we lost it because we didn’t remember the name of the band* that in 1986 covered the Chi-Lites 1974 hit ‘too good to be forgotten’; oh, the irony! (you’ll have to read/scroll to the end if you want to know who the band was!)

And yet, now, each time I see the term ‘the right to be forgotten’ in the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) I get an earworm and keep humming that bloomin’ tune. But strangely, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s not a bad thing to keep in mind when considering GDPR.

Because, let’s face it, GDPR is the biggest piece of legislation to blast through our industry in years and some of its potential casualties don’t even believe they’re in the path of the fallout, or the extent of it. I read something last year that pondered whether the darling of the digital advertising world, programmatic, could even survive post-GDPR given its dependency on a free flow and unfettered use of data. Time will tell on that one.

But as we start the year, with the clock ticking inexorably towards that May 25 deadline when GDPR comes into effect, we should all know by now that doing nothing is not an option. As someone recently pointed out to me, if forfeiting £20M or 4% of your global turnover wasn’t a stark enough warning for you for non-compliance then you probably deserve to be fined. A bit harsh but you get the point, and actually if we can’t readily and easily tell customers what we’re doing with their data then perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it at all.

If you already have meticulous processes, governance and controls in place for your data then GDPR is probably more an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one.

Data is usually your lifeblood, you’ve gathered it possibly over several years, refined and honed it and frankly it is ‘too good to be forgotten’ and if you’re not doing something to address it now it’ll be too late. Obtaining consent from customers must be freely given, and pre-ticked boxes tricking people into sharing their information will no longer be tolerated under post-GDPR legislation. If you’re caught using data without being able to show an appropriate level of consent then undoubtedly you will face the consequences.

I was on the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) website the other day and it provided an example of how Manchester United FC was going about acquiring consent for receiving one-to-one marketing. Its opt-in campaign entitled ‘stay united’ animated the club’s top players explaining the benefits of giving consent. Recipients were additionally incentivised to either opt-in or opt-out by 31 December to be entered into a draw to win one of 10 signed shirts. The significant point here is that opt-outs were not penalised for not wanting to subscribe any more, albeit that this point was delivered in a cheeky side whisper in the animation. But why not try and humanise this whole process?

Many are already suggesting that there will be a return to more human-focused marketing, engaging with customers directly rather than via machines. And I can’t say that I disagree, indeed many of our cross media campaigns e.g. with the Premier League have been very personalised. We’ve facilitated meaningful conversations with customers that led to increased engagement and brand loyalty.

The countdown has begun and if you’re feeling a little stuck on how best, and which channel to use, to contact your customers to try and secure their free consent then maybe we can provide some inspiration? We’re pretty good at remembering platform-shod 1970s band names (not so good clearly on the 1980s bands!) and we’re even better with cross-platform activity! Your data is too good to be forgotten, let’s try and keep it that way.