July 25, 2019

Leading Marketers Double Down on Data as Regulators Dig Deeper into Digital Platforms

More than a year after the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the impact and influence of digital platforms continues to come under scrutiny in the United States.

Most notably, Facebook was fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission and $100 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Moreover, future violations could result in civil or criminal charges.

This week, The New York Times reported the New York City Council has introduced legislation that would regulate the use and sale of mobile location data within the five boroughs. Sponsors of the bill suggest current practices make it too easy for companies to exploit consumer data or threaten users’ privacy.

“It will be interesting to see how this type of legislation unfolds,” said Mike Davis, Digital Media Director, Butler/Till. “The bill, while somewhat vague, contains potential provisions for data usage rights based on consumers who opt-in or receive products or services in exchange.” According to The New York Times, the Council’s Committee on Technology will first review the bill. The Committee’s chairman characterized the issue as an obligation of municipal government to protect privacy.

In Washington, NPR reported the U.S. Justice Department is examining the power of “…market-leading platforms that work in search, social and some retail services online.” This inquiry spans multiple areas, including privacy and competition.

“A lot of people are waking up to the fact that the internet is tracking and collecting more data than they realize,” said Scott Ensign, VP, Digital Media, Butler/Till. “Likewise, we know clients in regulated industries are putting a lot more pressure on third-party data partners.”

These converging trends have resulted in more walled gardens, barriers to reliable attribution, and sources of observed data, as well as placing a greater importance on first-party data.

“Marketers who want absolute accuracy and rich insights need greater control over their data,” said Ensign. “As their media agency, this means bringing together specialized partners for specialized needs.”

In 2019, Butler/Till has expanded its capabilities and talent to help brands and advertisers adapt and compete amid change. From its growing team of channel specialists to an expanding roster of ad-tech partners, Butler/Till has evolved its service offerings to meet the rising number of clients seeking customized programs that merge, enhance, and activate data without compromising privacy, security, or brand safety.

“Smart investments in digital require clear intentions and direction,” said Ensign. “This approach helps brands adjust the precision and scale of their data, apply more deterministic practices, and ultimately share more personalized stories.”

Ensign views the elevated focus on privacy and data as a boon to independent agencies like Butler/Till as well as to brands and marketers with aggressive growth agendas.

“Thanks to the rise of data and shifts in consumer expectations, we’re increasingly connecting with clients who expect more from their marketing,” said Ensign. “It has become more common for client engagements to start and end with a conversation on how best to strengthen their business outcomes.”

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