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    Informed, Symbolic, Incentivized and Dynamic: The Recipe for Meaningful Consent

    “Data is the new oil” – nowadays, we keep hearing what British mathematician Clive Humby once said back in 2006. It rings true even more in light of the latest developments in generative AI and the increasing concerns regarding the use of consumer information. Data is indeed the new oil of the digital economy. How shall we make proper use of it though?

    According to Ogilvy, rational adults have the right to consent to any number of things in their lives – legal, medical, financial – and the keys to their digital identities should be no different. In practice, things look very different. Once captured, consent can be used to legitimize practices that would otherwise be deemed illegitimate. Even the original titans of the digital Industrial Revolution – e.g. Facebook, Google, and Amazon – do not have the technological capability to understand the myriad ways in which their algorithms use (or potentially misuse) our data.

    Intrigued? Read on for a summary of highlights we have selected on this important topic:

    • Data and how to handle it. According to a recent Forbes article, data is the new oil because data can be used to derive insights. Depending on what a company does, insights can drive customer retention, upselling, new revenue models, advertising, etc. If data is the new oil, insights are the new money. Due to advances in computing, internet of things, machine generated data and more, data volumes are now exploding. So, we are awash in oil. How do we prevent oil fires, or data related fires – to be more precise, and get good insights?
    • Consent – the great legitimizer of all data. In an insightful report by Ogilvy on the Future of Consent, we are reminded that unlike fossil fuels trapped in the ground, data is truly ubiquitous. We mine it from human beings. And it’s valuable because it not only tells us about them and their behaviours – it can actually shape them. What we are no longer so inclined to accept is the potential misuse and abuse of data at the hands of nefarious actors online or the businesses who need it to survive in this brave new digital world. Once secured, it can justify any number of collection, use, and disclosure practices. In theory, this approach to personal data privacy management makes sense. 
    • Meaningful consent: informed, symbolic, incentivized and dynamic. According to Ogilvy, the future of consent will be determined by how we – as individuals, nations, and a global species – evolve our understanding of what counts as meaningful consent. For consumers and users, the greatest challenge lies in connecting consent to a mechanism of relevant, personal control over their data. For businesses and other organizations, the task will be to recast consent as a driver of positive economic outcomes, rather than an obstacle. Therefore, consent should be:
    • Informed: In digital environments, we should only qualify user consent as meaningfully informed if they can demonstrate a retained understanding of how their data is collected, used, or disclosed by a given entity.
    • Symbolic: when it’s done right it can imbue the relationship (e.g. between consumers and brands) with added trust, respect, loyalty, and value. This symbolic halo effect is just as important as the practical benefits.
    • Incentivized: Online, the incentive is frequently to use “free” services, engage with content, or acquire products that are useful (personally, socially, professionally) to the user. But the difference is many of the online providers of these “incentives” do not accurately represent the risks of using them. Incentivization without information therefore lays the groundwork for abuse of power.
    • Dynamic: you cannot agree to every action just because you agreed to the first one. Subjects should also have the right to alter their decisions at any time. This model of informed consent takes into account the fact that things can change for subjects, as can a study’s usage of personal or clinical data.
    • The challenges behind meaningful consent. Does unilateral rejection actually imply meaningful consent? OneTrust, a market leading privacy and data management firm, thinks not. They recently filed a patent for software that would help detect automatic cookie policy rejectors and deactivate them. But the creators of these tools feel that there are significant differences – philosophical and practical – between refusing consent and granting it. The point is, as Ogilvy state, one of the greatest challenges with consent on the Internet today is that the interactions that grant or reject it are innumerable. And more prescriptive, universal measures don’t necessarily offer sufficient protection or meaningful engagement.
    • Three paths to the future of consent: better storytelling, better trust, and better technology. What ingredients do we need to ensure that meaningful consent keeps consumers informed, feeling respected and incentivized over time? And how do we ensure those solutions work economically, not just ethically, for the businesses and other entities who serve them?
    • First, we need to engage users with better storytelling. We need meaningful, informed engagement. Nearly 60% of consumers worldwide say they’d distrust something until they’re given a reason not to, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer cited by Ogilvy. This isn’t just healthy scepticism – it’s outright suspicion. Better storytelling is chiefly critical to securing the symbolic value of consent. 
    • If brands and businesses can demonstrate transparency and concern in gaining consumers’ consent through relevant communication, they will have won half the battle already. These interventions, when conducted successfully, improve consumer relationships. Then comes better trust, which in turn leads to better reputation for the brand on a macro level. (And reputation, it has been estimated, is responsible for up to 25% of a brand’s market valuation.)
    • The one challenge that remains is the question of consumer control and self-management. How can we expect users to toggle their preferences for every brand in every situation? The answer is, of course, we can’t. And this is where the third pathway to the future of consent comes in: better technology for a better experience. 

    In a nutshell, according to Ogilvy, the future will be built by brands who invest in meaningfully consensual relationships with their customers that reward them for their trust. 

    Novelty Media, via SmartAdd, has developed an innovative technology framework that is 100% human-centric and puts users at the centre of privacy experience. SmartAdd is designed to build trusted, consensual data relationships with consumers via an opt-in process of informed, incentivized, symbolic and dynamic consent. Our next-level mobile media channel fully endorsed by Mobile Operators displays content that gets noticed every time and rewards the audience’s loyalty with powerful incentives. Reach out to us and learn more about the benefits of our solution for your brand.