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Privacy and data protection regulations impact the work of every advertising, marketing and PR communications professional around the globe, and the focus on privacy by consumers and regulators continues to increase. W2O’s team is tracking the most important news and changes that directly influence our industry, including the latest on legislation, new privacy technology, enforcement actions, analysis and thought leadership in privacy and data protection.

Here’s the news we’re paying attention to right now.

  1. GDPR Fines Rolling In

The UK’s data privacy authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced its intentions to fine Marriott $123MM and British Airways $230MM – about 1.5% of their respective annual revenues, and the largest penalties yet under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Both fines relate to data breaches and poor data security. Some observers feel these fines may be prescient of further punitive actions by regulators to come, particularly targeting Facebook and Google.

Main Takeaway – Brands and marketers that haven’t engaged a data privacy program along with IT security need to take action. GDPR particularly, and coming US regulation coming soon such as CCPA impact both security and privacy. A transparent and robust data privacy and protection program not only reduces the impact of breaches (ant the potential for fines), but also builds trust and engagement with audiences.

2. Some CCPA Amendments Passed, Some Defeated

Rushing against a mandatory deadline, California Senate committee members voted on several amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which comes into effect January 2020. One of the more contentious bills, 1416, which would have provided exceptions to allow businesses to sell personal data to third parties and allow data transfer to government entities, was withdrawn. Bill 25, which would have provided an exemption for employers related to job data, was amended to require employers to tell employees the types of information collection, and not the detailed data itself. The tech industry supported Bill 873, which would have changed the definitions of personal information essentially exempting IP address and browser fingerprinting, failed to pass.

Main TakeawayAll US businesses should be paying close attention to CCPA developments, especially marketing and communications teams, and ad technology vendors. While the guidance from the attorney general isn’t expected until at least September, brands should be taking action now to prepare.

3. ICO Guidance on Cookies Released

For websites that target EU-based persons, the UK’s data protection authority, the ICO, has released detailed guidance on the use of cookies and similar web tracking technologies (including device fingerprinting) as they relate to GDPR. Some of the highlights include that tracking cannot occur until opt-in consent is given, analytics cookies such as Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics are not considered strictly necessary and must be opt-in, and that emphasizing an “agree” or “allow all” mechanism over a reject or block message – often called nudging – is considered non-compliant.

Main TakeawayThe guidance provided by the ICO is highly detailed, and any operator of a website aimed at, or any company tracking and collecting digital data on EU located should review it in its entirety. There is direct guidance on providing users with clear and comprehensive choices, how to set cookie expiries, and responsibilities for cookies set by third parties on a website, such as Facebook.

* The opinions expressed in this post do not constitute or represent legal advice. No liability is accepted by the authors or W2O Group for any action taken or not taken based on the information or any associated communications.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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In the hyper-paced world of digital marketing and analytics, marketers are often hard pressed to keep up with the constantly changing news of the day. Between planning, executing and optimizing campaigns who has time to dig through all the news to find relevant industry updates?

Recognizing that this is an issue for many of our clients, we cut through the noise and deliver updates on the most impactful trends in digital marketing and analytics. Now we’ve decided to open these insights up to everyone by publishing a weekly roundup of the most important news.

Here’s what our team of digital marketing and analytics experts is keeping track of this week.

1. LiveRamp Acquires Data Plus Math to Strengthen TV AdTech: At W2O we’re very focused on the quickly changing TV advertising space. I write a lot of about how buying TV advertising is starting to look more like buying digital media with more precise targeting and access to wider ranges of inventory. However, just as important as the buying side of things, the measurement any analysis side of TV is changing quickly. LiveRamp has also recognized as evidenced by their $150mm purchase of Data Plus Math, a TV analytics start up.

Takeaway: The quickly evolving TV landscape is still pretty messy but acquisitions like these signify that it is also maturing. We don’t believe all of the kinks will be worked out of TV buying and measurement for a long time to come. However, we also think the channel is mature enough for marketers to invest in today.

2. Invoca Research Finds Consumers Still Leary of AI Customer Service: The promise of AI customer service bots is drastically lower costs to companies and real-time answer for customers. However, the reality is often frustrated customers using ALL CAPS to get a hold of a human. This Invoca research study finds exactly that sentiment among consumers today.

Takeaway: Customer service is more important today than ever where expectations are high and poor experiences can go viral. Companies need to balance cost saving bots with customer experience.

3. Klear Announces Automated Influencer Campaign Measurement: Influencer marketing has taken off as a new channel to reach potential customers in recent years. However, measurement of influencers has always been difficult; whereas other digital campaigns can look at metrics like clicks and impression across many channels, influencer impact needs to be aggregated by individual and specific KPIs per campaign. Now Klear claims to be able to automate this measurement and calculates the earned media value (EMV) of the reach as another KPI to measure success.

Takeaway: Measuring influencer campaigns can be time consuming and manual. Tools leveraging automated measurement, such as Klear, can help lighten the load on the team, however a critical human eye must be applied to all metrics to ensure they are accurate and not inflated by influencers gaming the system, such as paying for bots to engage or leave comments.

Watch this space weekly as we’ll continue to keep you updated on digital marketing and analytics trends.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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Capturing a whole new world of opportunities and expectations requires eliminating the mindset of the past

Design thinking is about creating a system to better serve the business through a holistic approach and solving for the right things. From a customer perspective, design thinking is engaging stakeholders in more intuitive experiences via well thought-out systems that produce clearer standards. In today’s digital environment where everything is connected, allowing for a holistic view and understanding of behavior – recognizing patterns, identifying trends and discerning economic benefit for smarter decision-making – the rules are completely upended. No longer can brands rely on large advertising and marketing campaigns favoring big images with captivating headlines as a means to entice interest.

As such, design thinking is taking on greater importance in a digital reality that breeds more complexity and requires a better result. Effective design thinking creates mutual benefit between the company and its stakeholders through a precise formula that ties elements together to ensure an overall experience. From a digital perspective, that formula begins with what the audience is looking to achieve vs. the old model based on how a company wanted to operate. This is making traditional advertising, communications and engagement efforts obsolete – and yet many organizations continue to hold onto them.

Applying a new mindset amid a completely volatile environment requires a disruption of the value proposition:

Analytics are the Bedrock – At the core, digital should be fueled by data. The capacity to capture behavior, movements through the journey, interactions and decision-making while recognizing people say one thing and do another is essential. Analytics help us understand data and the real needs of stakeholders, allowing for the translation of data to actionable insights.

The Entire Experience – From beginning to completion, every touch point must be intuitive, clean and cohesive to complement the entire journey. Streamlining truly integrated omni-channel communications that are customized based on the unique insights we have about each micro-moment in the journey ensures deeper insights and measurability.

The System is the Difference but must be Invisible – The roadmap through the brand and the company for key audiences – customers, prospects, investors, influencers, media, salespeople – must be solid and smooth but, more importantly, so powerful that it is not even identified. Technology enables frictionless experiences when implemented effectively. As marketers, we must understand that the end-to-end experience is only as good as the weakest link

Device-First Mentality – No longer is adjusting content to be responsive to varying screen widths sufficient. Design thinking in a digital world comes down to what and where stakeholders connect and interact with information and each other. Designing for a device is about adapting the experience for the platform, based on what, when, where and how targets engage.

Continuous Learning and Optimization – Design thinking in a digital world takes into account the ability to reassess via behavior how the system is working in real-time. Optimizing the entire customer experience takes on a whole new level of sophistication as data and touch points converge to paint a new picture of brand efficacy and organizational vitality.

Design thinking in a digital age is fundamentally more open and intuitive than previously thought. It can make organizations smarter and establish deeper connections with customers – connections that are more agile, more aggressive and more confident. Design thinking does this through technology and connectivity making sense of disparate actions and integrating them to open up solutions that were not envisioned previously.

As W2O engages with more brands and organizations to implement digital-first models and mindsets, including new interfaces and machine-driven efforts to better serve and retain customers, we are employing design thinking because it is a critical component to validating transformational initiatives.

We are focused on adopting the new digital tools available and incorporating them in a design system that focuses on customer realities and needs. This allows us to discover new things about  clients’  business, and opens up opportunities and ideas to drive forward.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About or Digital page.         

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Investing in healthcare and technology is critical for building a healthier world. Lisa Suennen of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP and Venture Valkyrie, joins the podcast this week to dive into what it looks like to invest in the world of health and tech.

During our chat Lisa shares how we can invest wisely, she predicts the future of the industry, she discusses Tech Tonics, both her book and podcast, and she shares lessons innovators can learn from children’s books. Plus, she shares her connections to superheroes and four-leaf clovers.


Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

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Thanks to Cambridge Analytica, the Marriott mega-breach, the Equifax breach, British Airways, Facebook’s criminal investigation and many more newsworthy data privacy events, consumers are starting to wake up and understand the scale of digital data collection and how bad actors can use it to manipulate everything from purchasing decisions to elections. Politicians have responded with legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Vermont data broker law, and 10 other (currently) proposed state-level data privacy laws, designed to reign in an industry that arguably abused an unwitting public.

The current paradigm shift is straight-forward: data is now owned by the people it reflects, not by martech vendors and advertising platforms, and it should not be sold, traded, or used in unexpected ways without informed consent. You would think that this is our demise….

Actually, it’s our golden ticket. Privacy, and more importantly data ethics, are now a key differentiators and offer an opportunity to deepen relationships with our audiences.

Social science and psychology research show that when people know they are being observed, they feel intruded and change their behavior. For example, information that we willing to tell our spouse is usually quite different than what we’d be willing to share with an advertiser. Which is why when the news broke that one of the most popular ovulation tracker apps, Flo, was sharing data with Facebook, it created an overwhelmingly negative reaction from users.

A few brands, most notably Apple, have begun to market their data protection and privacy practices as a prominent selling point. Studies are now beginning to show that strong data protection and ethics programs build trust with consumers and help brands gain advantage over competitors. Strong data controls enable agility and innovation, increase operational efficiency, mitigate losses from data breaches, and increase appeal to investors, surveys also found.

Now is the time for marketers to embrace data ethics and privacy.

Marketers that proactively go beyond compliance requirements and build privacy protection into the foundation will not only build trust with existing audiences but also capture the attention of those that are becoming disillusioned with competitors. Marketers and advertisers should question the data captured and ask what we should do, instead of what we can do. Here are a few points to consider.

First, invest in a privacy program and map understand your data flow.
Where is your data coming from? How is it being stored? Are your vendors using your data in ways you’re not aware of? Are you using platforms that don’t respect privacy ethics and legislation? How are you using your data – and if you’re not using it, why are you collecting it?

Having a clear line of sight into the data journey and map in addition to a robust marketing operations controls will help reduce risk and ensure customer privacy.

Second, embrace transparency. Whether it’s required for legal compliance or not. Ensuring your customers know why and how you’re collecting data, what you’ll use it for and how they’ll benefit from it – will help deepen brand loyalty and trust.

Third, do better work. Give people a good reason to engage by developing interesting and relevant content. Add value, entertain and enlighten them, and give them a reason to give you their data. A fair-value exchange will develop an authentic relationship between the consumer and a brand.

Finally, keep innovating! As the industry continues to change and more legislation comes to fruition, we need to continue creating new ideas and spins on older approaches. Embrace the use of AI-driven contextual advertising, premium publishers, better CRM programs, real 1-1 website personalization, better use first party data and CDPs – the list goes on. You can do all of that and more with a privacy-first approach.

The above has already worked for marketers in the EU where post-GDPR studies show that programmatic ad spend is growing by double digits as well as publisher’s digital revenue. So remember, privacy protection isn’t just a legal compliance burden, it’s an opportunity. Marketers who wait will be left behind whereas those who embrace privacy and transparency will cultivate trust and engagement, win market share against competitors, and build customer loyalty.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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There’s no doubt that marketer’s lives are more hectic than ever; their jobs are becoming more complex, fast-paced and competitive. Often metrics are now measured in pennies and milliseconds. Even though this dynamic is part of the fun of being a marketer, it also makes every decision feel like high stakes. Even in this increasingly complex environment, its often helpful to answer the most basic questions first; who, what, where and how?

At W2O, we use our proprietary data and tools, combined with our team of expert analysts, to determine who to target. Next, we use our knowledge of the target segment to inform what content and messaging to serve up. Finally, our activation teams develop an efficient and creative strategy to place media where it will work hardest.

Even with all these critical questions to answer, sometimes how to execute and measure campaigns can be the most difficult question of all. One of the reasons that answering how is so complex is the dizzying state of the marketing technology industry.  Marketing Technology is the precinct of marketing, dominated by Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors, that handles every executional component of marketing campaigns. This can start at the organization and analysis of data, all the way through campaign deployment and measurement.

Last week, the collective hive-mind of Marketing Technology came together in San Jose for the MarTech Conference. Below are my biggest takeaways and what it means for clients from the conference:

  1. Overall Vendor Growth is Slowing: This year, Scott Brinker’s spectacular Marketing Technology Landscape revealed that the total number of Marketing Technology vendors grew by less than double digits for the first time in eight years. However, the total number of vendors still topped 7,000 which is an objectively overwhelming number, no matter the slowing growth pace. The sheer scale of vendor choice remains daunting. Our suggestion is always to focus on critical functionality instead of being distracted by flashy sale’s pitches that often over-promise
  2. The Landscape is No Less Confusing: More important than the topline number of vendors, is the question of whether the Marketing Technology space has become easier to navigate. In this respect, the landscape is more confusing than ever. It’s true that the largest players, like Adobe and Salesforce, have acquired many smaller players in order to offer customers a full suite of functionality. However, we are a long way from a one-size-fits-all tool. To help clients navigate, we first look at what tools they already have available and if those tools will meet immediate needs. Next, we work to create critical requirements to narrow the list of possible platforms. Lastly, we deliver a single recommendation with plans for future scaling.
  3. Channel Focus is Shifting: Looking at specific shifts within categories, it’s clear that marketers are increasing their focus on some channels and decreasing on others. The number of Influencer and Chatbot tools grew at 22% and 17% respectively year-over-year. We’ve seen both of these channels mature from ancillary to vital in the marketing mix; this shows the technology space is responding. Conversely, the number of Local Marketing and Sales Automation tools each fell by 7% year-over-year. Our take on this shift is not that the channels are less important, but that they are more mature, and the market has started to choose winners and shed losers. More generally, it’s important for marketers be open to new vendors in emerging channels while trusting the expertise of best-of-breed platforms in established channels.
  4. Data Privacy is Everyone’s Priority: While data privacy has always been important in evaluating Marketing Technology vendors, it’s now the main competing feature of many platforms. More so than any other year, marketers and vendors have been focused on data privacy in almost every aspect of marketing technology. From social advertising to customer data platforms, privacy is priority number one. This is perhaps most exemplified in the 17% grown in platforms dedicated solely to privacy. This is also why W2O has invested heavily to provide our clients privacy and data security consulting that is the best in the industry.
  5. Embrace the Uncertainty: Although the Marketing Technology space has shifted to meet Marketer’s needs over the last few years, the future seems more uncertain than ever. Questions like what’s the next big channel? How do we manage customer data? How do we know we’re being efficient in our technology purchases? How can we be smarter about analytics? and more have been constant. Far from causing anxiety, these questions have been laced with excitement as those of us in the marketing technology space get ready to solve ever more complex problems over the next year.

It’s exciting to see this space expand and contract, shift and realign, to meet the industry’s most pressing challenges. In fact, the more sophisticated and complex the who, what and where become, the more exciting the challenge of how will become. After being in this space for many years, I’m more confident than ever in the industry’s ability to respond and, more specifically, of W2O’s ability to surpass our client’s expectations.

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In the hyper-paced world of digital marketing and analytics, marketers are often hard pressed to keep up with the constantly changing news of the day. Between planning, executing and optimizing campaigns who has time to dig through the news to find relevant industry updates?

Seeing that this is an issue for most of our clients, we often cut through the noise and deliver updates on the most impactful trends in digital marketing and analytics. Now we’ve decided to open these insights up to everyone by publishing a weekly roundup of the most important news.

Here’s what our team of digital marketing and analytics experts are keeping track of this week.

  1. Taptica Invests in Video Advertising by Acquiring RhythmOne: Advertising technology company, Taptica, made its second investment in TV by acquiring RhythmOne for a reported $176mm. This is after acquiring Tremor Video DSP in 2017. It’s clear that Taptica is placing a big bet on Connected TV (CTV). We’ve been watching this space evolve on both the consumer and technology sides for a long time and agree that it’s going to be a hotspot for advertising growth.
  2. Google and Salesforce Team Up to Provide Better Analytics: It’s rare that large marketing technology and analytics platforms decide to ‘play nice’ because they are constantly battling to gain a larger and larger share of client’s advertising dollars. That’s why it was both surprising and refreshing when Google and Salesforce announced a partnership between their Analytics 360 and Marketing Cloud products respectively. This week it seems the two have made good on their promise by opening-up the interconnected functionality. We often talk about the need to integrate platforms, so it will be great to see how impactful this massive partnership will be for marketers and analysts.
  3. Cision Acquires TrendKite to Provide Better Insight into Communication Programs: Global PR and Communications vendor, Cision, acquired measurement tool TrendKite to provide communications teams with better visibility into the performance of their efforts. Measuring PR and Communications programs has traditionally been difficult to do. At W2O, we’ve created a team of experts with deep industry knowledge and analytical skill to help clients gain visibility into program performance.
  4. Cisco Report Shows Benefits of Companies Securing Customer Data: After the European Union enacted the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) last year, many companies were left scrambling to come into compliance. While this report shows that many companies are still not quite there, it also shows that many are already receiving the ancillary benefits of gaining better control of customers data including fewer data breaches and shorter sales delays. W2O has taken a special interest in helping new and existing clients stay or come up to compliance because we’ve seen these benefits as part of the process as well.

Those are the four pieces of news we are watching closely this week. Watch this space weekly as we’ll continue to keep you updated on digital marketing and analytics trends.

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In the hyper-paced world of digital marketing and analytics, marketers are often hard pressed to keep up with the constantly changing news of the day. Between planning, executing and optimizing campaigns who has time to dig through the news to find relevant industry updates?

Seeing that this is an issue for most of our clients, we often cut through the noise and deliver updates on the most impactful trends in digital marketing and analytics. Now we’ve decided to open these insights up to everyone by publishing a weekly roundup of the most important news.

Here’s what our team of digital marketing and analytics experts are keeping track of this week.

  1. Facebook Opens Up Brand Safety Partnerships: Facebook has long been in beta with brand safety vendors DoubleVerify and OpenSlate to help brands ensure their content is being represented responsibly. Last week, Facebook opened the program to all brands. This brings Facebook up to parity with most other publishers. However, it may also create an extra bit of trust that Facebook desperately needs at this point with both advertisers and consumers alike.
  2. Qlik Acquires CrunchBot for Conversation Analytics UI: There always seems to be news coming out regarding chatbots and natural language processing (NLP), regardless of how enthusiastic consumers actually are about the platforms. Qlik’s new acquisition of CrunchBot continues the trend of interesting news with a questionable amount of utility for end users. The acquisition is meant to create a platform where users can make analytics queries through chat/voice UI like Slack or Alexa. The concept is certainly more convenient for many users than using code like SQL to retrieve data. However, given the current accuracy with most chatbots and voice assistants, data queries seem like a tall task.
  3. Confluent Raises $125mm to Further Event Streaming: Real-time event processing vendor, Confluent, raised a staggering $125mm to further build out its platform. Event processing consists of tracking user actions in real-time and making them available for other systems to act on. For example, a user’s action may trigger an alert or an update to a predictive model. This investment highlights the importance not only of data itself, but also how quickly that data becomes available.
  4. Salesforce Bolsters Datorama’s CDP Capabilities: There was some exciting news in the world of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) last year when CRM giant, Salesforce, purchased Datorama. It seems that Datorama has taken that investment and quickly reinvested it into enhanced features. Last week it was announced that users would now have access to a slew of new features around analytics and activation. We see CDPs as a marketer’s best tool yet to attain the coveted ‘single view of the customer’ so its exciting the see the space generally, and Datorama specifically, continue to evolve.

Those are the four pieces of news we are watching closely this week. Watch this space weekly as we’ll continue to keep you updated on digital marketing and analytics trends.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About or Analytics page.

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On January 21st, 2019 the French data protection authority CNIL (the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés) announced a €50 million fine against Google for “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding the ads personalization.”

Read the original release from CNIL in English here.

The fine stems from complaints originally submitted in May 2018 shortly after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. While not the first fine levied, it’s the largest to date and the first levelled against a major player like Google. The complaints came from two organizations – None Of Your Business (“NOYB”) – headed up by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, and La Quadrature du Net (“LQDN”).

While Google famously “does not sell user data”, and eliminated what little data sharing it did before GPDR, brands who use Google to advertise should be paying attention to how they respond to this enforcement action.  €50 million is a drop in the proverbial bucket for Google, but it’s also clear that regulatory authorities will not give the duopoly a free pass.

And this action against Google may be the first of many fines to come. While CNIL started investigating the matter on June 1st  2018, their online inspections did not occur until September 2018, and the announcement of the fine came yesterday – the complaint this fine is based on was one of the very first ones submitted under GDPR. NYOB has since submitted several GDPR complaints, including last week against Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Spotify and YouTube. CNIL itself received 3,767 complaints from May 2018 to October 2018 alone.

One key question is – how quickly will Google and other big platforms move towards full and real compliance? Once Google does comply, and consumers do have a clear and informed choice along with the ability to control their own data, will targeted advertising capabilities be severely compromised or will Google adapt with new strategies?

Privacy is an opportunity for brands, publishers and platforms – not just a compliance burden.

It’s already clear that brands can and should use new privacy legislation as an opportunity to focus on developing transparency and trust with their customers. Consumers will exchange data with brands they trust for the right value exchange, and consumer comfort levels are much higher with direct brand relationships versus third-party data sharing.

Even as companies like Apple are differentiating themselves on the basis of privacy, at the same time data-intensive advertising continues to increase in Europe. Strategies like direct buying from publishers that have developed consumer trust through privacy and excellent user experience are not only filling but exceeding any gap caused by the GDPR.

GDPR hasn’t caused the end of the digital advertising industry. The wave of privacy legislation we are experiencing now will have some losers and some winners – the big winners will be the brands, advertisers, publishers and platforms that seize this moment to change and innovate.


If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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