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Why marketers should not be collecting your personal data

By GRANT LAPPING, Managing Director at DataCore Media



Data privacy and protection are likely to be high on the agenda for 2020 in the wake of Facebook–Cambridge Analytica and other data scandals. These controversies have prompted regulators and consumers alike to question how much personal data big tech companies gather, how they put it to work, and how they store and manage it.

This incident saw Cambridge Analytica harvest the personal data of millions of peoples’ Facebook profiles without their consent and use it for microtargeted political campaigns. It’s an example of how the speed of change in the technology market outpaces the ability of lawmakers and regulators to keep up.

The enactment of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018 in response to personal data privacy concerns was a watershed moment, setting a benchmark for global data protection regulation that is likely to be emulated in many parts of the world. Yet the debate has already moved on.

Edward Snowden – the NSA-whistle blower living in exile in Russia after exposing America’s mass surveillance programmes – for example, argues that we shouldnot be looking only at protection of data. We should also ask whether this personal data should be collected in the first place, given that leaks or abuse of the data are inevitable.

He says that the underlying assumption of GDPR and similar data privacy laws is that “the collection of data in the first place was proper, that it was appropriate and that it doesn’t represent a threat or danger. That it’s okay to spy on yourcustomers or your citizens so long as it never leaks.”

Reframing the debate 

This point is one that digital marketers, regulators, big tech and privacy advocates are likely to vigorously debate in the years to come. It shifts the question to whether Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and other programmatic based platforms are correct to collect your information in the first instance rather than whether they are doing enough to protect your data from bad actors like Cambridge Analytica.

This reframing of the debate could have profound implications for digital marketing if it becomes increasingly difficult for programmatic platforms to collect data that enables brands to run highly targeted advertising campaigns. We could see lawmakers question whether the way these platforms gather and use data is truly in customers’ best interests.

As powerful as these capabilities are, it is perhaps also time for marketers to question whether they should amass as much personal data as they can without asking whether their customers are in favour of it. Many leading brands believe that they could benefit from shifting from mass collection of data towards collecting data only with customers’ consent.

The obvious drawback is that brands have less customer data to use for their targeted campaigns; the upside is that marketers can build trust among their customers by asking for permission and being transparent about how they collect and use data. They can overlay mass data with surveys and other tools to notonly understand what customers are doing but why they are doing it.

Data captured via tags embedded within sites for targeted campaigns is still the most effective way to gather vast amounts of client data quickly. It will always be more efficient than survey-based data, but if regulation starts to move from protection to collection it is worth building the capability now in anticipation of that possibility.

Focus on the data that matters 

Marketers can also focus on the most salient data rather than gathering information for its own sake. Consider the example of Facebook likes. Some marketers think that getting a lot of ‘likes’ on Facebook is a great way to gather a captive audience of good, qualified prospects. But one needs to ask how these likes were acquired and whether those that ‘liked’ to enter a competition are genuine leads and fans.

It’s not necessary to gather ‘likes’ to market your product or service to a user on Facebook. You can reach him or her through a range of more precise targeting criteria that are far better qualified. I would rather have 80% less likes on my page if I knew those remaining 20% were genuine brand ambassadors.

One way to get richer data is to use survey data consumers knowingly provided to target ads on platforms such as Facebook. This can build trust with the customer, since they will have more control over how their data is used to target messages to them. The brand can still leverage the data the platform collects about the user, while using the data the user supplied for more accurate and transparent engagements.

We work closely with platforms such as Google and Facebook, and believe their intentions are generally good. However, marketers also need to keep ahead of the evolving data privacy debate and position themselves for the best practices of tomorrow. Those that get it right will be able to both target their customers at a highly granular level and build trust in their brands by using data in a manner that respects concerns of consumers and regulators.


Alexa can now read all messages

For the first time, an Alexa skill is available that makes it possible to listen to any kind of message while driving



For the first time, Alexa users can now hear all their messages and email read aloud.

Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name. The world’s most popular virtual assistant is getting smarter every day and now, with Amazon Echo Auto, it’s in cars too. 

“In today’s highly connected world, messaging in the form of emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and work channels like Slack, are integral to our daily routine,” says Barrie Arnold, chief revenue officer at ping. “However, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25% of car crashes and thousands of preventable fatalities every year.” 

ping, a specialist in voice technology founded by Arnold and South African Garin Toren, has developed a new Alexa skill as a companion to its patented smartphone app, that enables any message type to be read aloud. Designed for safety, productivity and convenience, “pingloud” is the first skill of its kind for keeping users connected when they need a hand or an extra pair of eyes.

“The ping Alexa skill is specifically designed to help drivers stay off their phones while giving them exactly what they want – access to their messages.” says Toren, ping CEO. 

Opening up Alexa to developers has resulted in an explosion of new skills available either for free or for a fee that unlocks premium services or features. These tools magnify the usefulness of Alexa devices beyond common tasks like asking for the weather, playing music or requesting help on a homework assignment. According to App Annie, the most downloaded apps in 2019 were Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s main app and WhatsApp, highlighting the importance of messaging. 

“The ping Android app is available worldwide from the Google Pay Store, reading all messages out loud in 30 languages,” says Toren. “The iOS version is in global beta testing with the US launch coming very soon.” 

Once you’ve signed up for ping, it takes a few seconds to link with Alexa, enabling all messages and emails to be read aloud by a smart speaker or Echo Auto device. Simply say, “Hey Alexa, open pingloud.” ping links an account to a voice profile so unauthorised users with access to the same Alexa cannot ask for the authorised user’s messages.

All major message types are supported, including Texts/SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, Twitter DM’s, Instagram, and all email types. Promotional and social emails are not read by default.

*For more information, visit

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Coronavirus to hit 5G



Global 5G smartphone shipments are expected to reach 199 million units in 2020, after disruption caused by the coronavirus scare put a cap on sales forecasts, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global 5G smartphone shipments will grow more than tenfold from 19 million units in 2019 to 199 million in 2020. The 5G segment will be the fastest-growing part of the worldwide smartphone industry this year. Consumers want faster 5G smartphones to surf richer content, such as video or games. We forecast 5G penetration to rise from 1 percent of all smartphones shipped globally in 2019 to 15 percent of total in 2020.”

Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “China, United States, South Korea, Japan and Germany are by far the largest 5G smartphone markets this year. The big-five countries together will make up 9 in 10 of all 5G smartphones sold worldwide in 2020. However, other important regions, like India and Indonesia, are lagging way behind and will not be offering mass-market 5G for at least another year or two.”

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The global 5G smartphone industry is growing quickly, but the ongoing coronavirus scare and subsequent economic slowdown will put a cap on overall 5G demand this year. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently restricting smartphone production in Asia, disrupting supply chains, and deterring consumers from visiting retail stores to buy new 5G devices in some parts of China. The first half of 2020 will be much weaker than expected for the 5G industry, but we expect a strong bounce-back in the second half of the year if the coronavirus spread is brought under control.”

Exhibit 1: Global 5G Smartphone Shipments Forecast in 2020 1

Global Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)20192020
Rest of Market13941165
Global Smartphone Shipments (% of Total)20192020
Rest of Market99%85%

Source: Strategy Analytics

The full report, Global Handset Sales for 88 Countries & 19 Technologies, is published by the Strategy Analytics Emerging Device Technologies (EDT) service, details of which can be found here:

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