Add Transparency to Marketing Trimmings
People scramble through crowds to purchase that last gift. They hurry to meet family and friends to celebrate. Moods run from festive to feeling rushed. It is, after all, the holiday season. Amid all of the preparation and anticipation, it’s been said this is a time of year not only to celebrate, but to reflect. And one topic worthy of reflection was on the minds of many marketers and advertisers this past year. That topic is transparency.
Trials and tribulations due to lack of being transparent
Since the beginning of the Internet age, there have been concerns over the safety of disclosing personal information on the web. This past year, however, feelings of unease deepened and remained with many – and not without cause. This lack of security is especially evident on well-known sites where brands are advertised, promoted, and sold. Consider just three examples within the past year:
- In April, many fake reviews were discovered to have been posted to Amazon by less-than-trustworthy businesses. While Amazon itself was not at fault, it proved that even the most powerful online brands are vulnerable.
- As if Facebook had not been the subject of enough controversy – between the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, followed by a data breach in October – the platform was reported this week to have given user data to other tech companies including Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify. Facebook states this was done with consent. Whatever the case, developments such as this naturally make users (read: customers) wary if not terrified in regard to online privacy.
- Earlier this year, the prototype for the Data Transparency Label was released with the purpose of detailing where the vital stats of a set of data begins, who sees it, and any changes made before reaching its destination for marketing. Is it coincidental such an idea was released in 2018 – or indicative of the need to increase measures for transparency?
Transformation to transparency
The reflection of what happened to well-known companies in 2018 should serve as an example of what every brand, business and marketer must make a priority in the new year, which is to strengthen transparency. Ironically, the controversies many companies faced by not being transparent may inadvertently pave the way for a beneficial turnaround. Martin Albrecht and Kamran Asghar, writing for Adweek, theorize that complete transparency in advertising will emerge as a competitive advantage. Mr. Albrecht and Mr. Asghar offer the following practices to create the foundation for complete transparency:
- Guidelines should be established, and all policies and documentation should be made clear in writing.
- Transfer discounts, bonuses, and other value from media buying that truly belong to the client must go to the client.
- Keep all financial arrangements simple and straightforward.
- A third party, such as an auditing firm, should monitor, maintain, and review compliance with transparency principles.
The points listed above may seem obvious, but at a time when there is much suspicion and doubt, they will go a long way in proving integrity and honesty in how an advertising enterprise operates.
A look back…
Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol” tells the well-known tale of misanthropic miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by four spirits: his former business partner Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. These spirits – who are transparent – present the truth of what was, is, and might be to Scrooge. They show him the true story of his life. And he undergoes a change for the better in mind and spirit.
What applies to a 175-year old fantasy is metaphorically relevant in the real world of today: Transparency is necessary to bring change for the better.
(Oh, for fun, try and find the spirits in the picture above.)
Happy holidays from the EGC Group.