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Personalization Is Built On Trust And Transparency Best Practices For Data Management In The Media And Entertainment Industry
Ashwin Navin
CEO-Samba TV
Friday, February 3, 2017
My father is a tailor, my grandfather was a tailor, and our family has made custom suits for more than 50 years. As is common practice dating back to the 13th century, my dad's customers come to be sized up from head to toe, and then served with a garment that fits perfectly. While it may be uncomfortable to have your body measured in every dimension, customers appreciate the tradeoff when they slip into a suit that fits like a glove. My dad's customers are loyal to him for decades and, in confidence, share some of the most intimate details of their lives.

Like my father, my customers also trust me with intimate details of their lives, through their data, in exchange for an experience that's built for them. In the media and entertainment industry, we define success as our ability to listen, understand and deliver relevant experiences. We form personal relationships with consumers by analyzing their behavior online and offline, customizing what they see and targeting advertising to be less intrusive. Doing so requires many systems to collect and mesh data, where the integration of data has become the fabric of our digital lives.

While the notion of surrendering information in exchange for a more personal service isn't new (hello, Dad!), customers want a balance between giving up something sensitive and getting something of value in return. Although standards regarding protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) are regulated and discussed often, the rules for collecting and protecting usage and behavioral data are less clear.

And therein lies the key question for industry leaders; do we ask for permission to collect and analyze this data? Or is the value of personalization so great, that we can do this entirely in the background, invisible to the consumer?

How can today's CIO address this? It is time to build trust.

At my company, Samba TV, we find ourselves in a very critical position with respect to data and consumer trust. Our technology provide media recommendations and analytics, giving our clients insight into how people respond to their messaging across platforms, ultimately driving more personalization. However, we absolutely must handle this data sensitively, and never squander the trust consumers have placed in us and our partners.

To do this successfully, we developed guiding principles which we implement in our products, and establish with our employees and business partners, as non-negotiable pillars of our trusted relationship with customers and partners.

1. Always Apply the Golden Rule

We tend to think our consumers are as tech savvy as we are, and that they are informed of the risks of sharing their information, but this is not always the case. Applying the Golden Rule keeps us mindful of the fact that every consumer must be handled with care. At its core this rule reminds us not to abuse the consumer. Thinking back to my Dad, how would you want your family and their personal data treated?

Assume these "consumers" don't understand how easy it is for someone to steal their identity. Assume they don't understand all of the potential consequences that can arise from sharing data with a company that doesn't have clear data privacy policies. And treat them the way you would want your family treated, with transparency and trust.

2. Give People Clear Choices

When my father met with a new customer he took the time to describe the measurements in detail, to ensure there were no surprises when he got to the most sensitive areas. Your opt-in and opt-out statements should do the same, providing a clear and personal introduction to your company, rather than legal boilerplate.

In plain simple English, state your reason for collecting data, giving people the choice to entrust you with it or not. That's an "Opt-in" decision, not an "Optout," and ensures the customer feels in control of their data. Review the flow and language of these statements to ensure they sound appealing to a new customer.

Ask yourself: Are consumers opting in because they love your product and the value it provides, or out of necessity?

3. Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

Remember that "consumers" are real people, and while they may happily agree to share their information with you, it does not automatically mean they are willing to share that information with your partners. Again the Golden Rule should guide how you choose who you do business with.

It is critical to establish thresholds on what you will, and will not reveal to third parties, and then apply that standard to all partners, understanding how they address data collection, transparency and disclosure. While partnerships are often critical to growth and can be very lucrative, the customer's trust in you should be the top priority.

4. Give Consumers More Choices.

Just like my father and grandfather, being mindful that your relationship with the consumer goes beyond giving them a single decision. It's about continuing to stay transparent for the duration of their relationship with your company, and building lifetime customers.

Consider adding notifications and opt-in/opt-out choices when you make key changes such as:
1. Push a product update
2. Change you terms of service or user agreements
3. Update your data collection strategy
4. Enter into a third party agreement that shares data

While the proliferation of technology has made it easier for us to customize the user experience, it doesn't mean consumers owe us their data to do so. Now is the time for technology leaders to step up and set the tone for the future; to ensure that media and entertainment experiences can continue to be robust and enriching for the consumer.

Thanks for the life lessons, Dad. Appreciate if you could keep my current measurements just between us please!
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