Transparency Is Essential

AdTech’s Close-Up: Why Transparency Is Essential

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal has made users more aware than ever that they are being tracked online. While they may not understand the nuts and bolts of how the information gets gathered, they do know that their activities are not as private as they previously thought.
To mitigate the risk of being associated with this negativity, adtech firms must make sure they are as transparent as possible with their users. The industry has a history of communication problems with its users, from being unclear about the data being collected to not being upfront about selling information to third parties. Fixing that requires improved transparency and accountability.
How to Be Transparent With Users
Changing the ways that you do things at your organization won’t happen overnight. You have to develop several practices that promote a user experience that revolves around being upfront with them. These three options form a good foundation for achieving this goal.
Use Consumer-Friendly Language
How much jargon do you use in your terms of service, privacy policy and other content that consumers end up reading? You can’t be transparent if the average person has no idea what you mean in your disclaimers.
If you’re not sure how to approach explaining complex advertising technology concepts, research the ways that it’s presented through articles targeted to beginners or a layperson. You get an idea of which terms need definitions and which would be okay to use as-is. If all else fails, consider presenting a beginners’ workshop or class. Gauge whether you need to simplify things based on your attendees’ performance.
Avoid any explanations that may sound condescending. An advertising solution that’s commonplace to you may be completely new to your target audience.
Be Honest About What You’re Doing
Informed consent is an important part of building transparency and accountability into your adtech practices. You don’t need to give step-by-step details about what you do and how you do it. However, the user should walk away with a basic understanding of the data that you’re collecting, how you store it, what you’re doing with it and under what circumstances you’re sharing it.
Don’t forget about data storage, archiving and backup. Tell users how you keep their data safe, what you will do in the event of a data breach, and who they can contact if they have concerns about the security of their personally identifiable information.
Explain How It Benefits Them
Consumers aren’t necessarily opposed to advertisers collecting and tracking data. They just want to know what’s in it for them. Take a page from the sales department and tell the users how they benefit from adtech. For example, using a recommendation engine personalizes their website-browsing experience by showing the consumer products that cater to their likes and interests. You can explain how the information helps you segment users into specific groups for a more relevant experience.
Give consumers some control over their data. Distrust in advertising technology is high due to the fallout from the Facebook scandal. Put a process in place to let consumers request their data so they know exactly what information you have. Create a procedure for deleting that data if the user requests it.
Trust can be broken in an instant and takes a long time to get back. The Facebook situation has many consumers wondering exactly how much of their data is out there and what it’s being used for. Put this approach into action so you can proactively address user concerns and show how you’re doing your part for avoiding a similar scenario.

April 17, 2018


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