NEWS1 June 2020

Study of CMOs highlights lack of data ethics policy

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GLOBAL – Half of chief marketers surveyed by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) do not have a data ethics policy, despite the majority thinking it will be important to their role in the next five years.

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The WFA conducted an online survey of 147 chief marketing officers from companies representing $55bn of advertising spend annually.

The majority of respondents ( 84%) said that they would consider leaving their current employer if they felt the approach to data was not ethical, and a quarter ( 26%) said they had already felt uncomfortable about the use of data at some point during their careers.

Just under half ( 48%) of those who took part in the survey said their company currently had a data ethics policy in place.

The survey took place during February and March, and 62% of respondents had global roles.

The WFA has published a guide on data ethics in advertising, based on work by the organisation’s data ethics board, chaired Unilever’s general counsel for global marketing and media. The four principles outlined by the guide are:

  • Respect: companies should strive to understand the interests of all parties and use consumer data to ‘improve people’s lives’
  • Fairness: data usage should aim to be inclusive, acknowledge diversity and eliminate bias
  • Accountability: companies, partners, suppliers, publishers and platforms should have open and transparent data practices backed up by robust global and local governance
  • Transparency: brands should apply transparency principles and work towards ‘more open and honest data practices’.

Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA, said: “The benefits and critical importance of data-enabled tech have been more evident of late than ever before. But we should not default to an attitude of “because we can, we should” in terms of data usage. The ad industry needs to have a conversation on data that distinguishes ‘the right to do something’ from ‘doing the right thing’.”