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April 25, 2018
The Facebook Fallout
The Facebook Furor Threatens People-Based Marketing
The Facebook scandal has exposed privacy issues that affect the movement toward people-based marketing, ironically a concept coined by Facebook. The ability to compose and use a 360-degree view of an individual that facilitates targeting and measurement is the Holy Grail for performance marketers. Collecting, normalizing and using this data will become more problematic in the wake of the revelations about Cambridge Analytica.
Personalized communication prompts better, faster and deeper response and engagement. Relevance, utility and value unlock customer relationships and drive business and loyalty. By creating robust individual profiles, brands can improve response and engagement.
The premise behind people-based marketing was articulated by my friend and former client, Bert Shlensky, president of startupconnection.com, who put it this way, “The more you can make someone feel valued like an individual, the more they are going to prefer you over the place next door.  At the end of the day, dealing with people on a personal level is the key to creating relationships and building loyalty that can last for decades.”
The ability to collect personal information and interactions, frequency, messages and channels is much more challenging because it requires a change of mindset, an investment in technology, creation of more varied messages and a willingness to consider a wide range of variables representing each individual’s idiosyncratic customer journey. The good news is that data science and technology married to marketing automation tools creates a persistent, unique personal identifier which makes people-based marketing operational and cost-effective.
The ultimate assemblage of data about an individual, known as “identity resolution,” spans psycho-demographics, contact information, media and channel use or preference, purchase histories, favorite or frequented locations and a wide range of inferences based on these data points. This data trove can then be modeled to produce predictive models or propensity scores to identify those most likely to be interested in a brand, a product, a service or an offer. This requires investments in strategy, creative and technology.
Tension exists between collecting and using all this data and the rights of individuals, both to own their data and protect their privacy. Yet in most cases, consumers are open to giving up data in return for something of value. When consumers ask brands to “know me” they expect that the sum total of interactions plus the tone and tenor of the relationship will be used to super-serve them. It’s as if they are saying, “Use what you know about me to keep me up-to-date; treat me special and offer me deals for things I like or care about.”  
The kerfuffle in Washington will add to existing privacy and investment stumbling blocks that deter many firms from pursuing people-based marketing. The threat of government oversight will reinforce claims that personalization is too difficult organizationally, too costly, too risky, too technically complex and too hard to get it right. The fallout from Zuckerberg’s testimony combined with the implementation of the GDPR in Europe will slow the implementation of people-based marketing efforts.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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