How is your data used?

How is your data used web pic.pptx

With more data than ever being collected and analysed, businesses are increasingly able to develop insights into how their key audiences think and act. This is particularly true of the online realm, where people are spending more and more of their time. As the number of an individual’s online interactions grow, so does their digital footprint. There are significant rewards for companies capable of collecting, filtering and analysing these data trails to better understand consumer audiences.

Making commercial use of personal information shared online enables businesses to become more efficient and build more personalised relationships with their customers, but also raises important privacy and consent issues that must be addressed. Whilst not all data is personal, and not all personal data is equally sensitive, consumers need to fully understand, and be in control of, how their personal data is used, and by whom.

On Tuesday 30th June, Pictfor hosted a breakfast briefing for parliamentarians titled “How is your data used? A look at Big Data and digital advertising”. The session was held in partnership with the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) and the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST).

The IAB, the trade association for online and mobile advertising, wants to grow the UK’s world-leading internet advertising sector whilst ensuring the industry acts in a responsible and ethical manner. The IAB is working to put people in greater control of their data and to increase transparency around how data is used. POST, Parliament’s in-house source of independent analysis of public policy issues related to science and technology, have done considerable work on the topic of Big Data over the last 12 months and have published a number of research notes on the topic (available here).

Digital advertising in the UK is a thriving and growing sector: expenditure on digital advertising increased by 14% in 2014 to over £7 billion. The IAB illustrated the extent to which many businesses rely on online advertising to market their product or service to the right audiences or fund their ‘free’ business model.

As consumers migrate online, so do advertisers, and with e-commerce worth £104bn to the UK economy, the rewards are huge. Furthermore, online interactions generate a much greater volume and variety of data than offline contact, and those advertising on the internet employ advanced data analytics to build rich, sophisticated consumer profiles.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Contrary to this popular phrase, when it comes to internet advertising you know precisely how well certain approaches are working. Advertisers can now tap into a wealth of behavioural, engagement, and ‘personal’ data to build relevant audiences and make campaigns more targeted. However, as data collection and analysis methods become more sophisticated, greater transparency is needed around how data is used and how consent is acquired.

If you would like further information on this topic or about Pictfor’s programme of events, please contact

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