Rhys Cater
Rhys Cater 2 June 2022

New Study Finds Marketers Cite Customer Satisfaction as Top Priority

In a survey of over 150 senior marketers, respondents shared their strategies and challenges in relation to data privacy, consumer expectations, transparency, algorithmic bias, and inclusivity and representation in advertising. But one in two aren’t ready to go beyond regulatory requirements to adopt more ethical marketing practices for their customers.

New research launched today by data-driven digital marketing agency Precis Digital, and leading global research company Forrester Consulting, finds that 80% of marketers rank customer satisfaction as the number one most important outcome for their marketing programmes.

However, only 49% indicate that they would go beyond what regulations such as GDPR require, to adopt more ethical marketing practices for the customer.

According to the report, marketing ethics is a high priority in many marketing departments with more than two-thirds (67%) of the respondents stating that marketing ethics helps to achieve the dual objective of building customers’ trust and driving long-term performance.

More than three-quarters (76%) go as far as to say that they are making marketing ethics a high or critical priority for their organisation. But even though the respondents state they have ethics as a high priority, the study also shows that they struggle to do what it takes to live up to their own ethical ambitions. 

As the marketing industry has become more technologically advanced, the complexity faced by marketers has also increased. If brands want to get their message heard, they are largely dependent on the ad-tech industry to reach their audiences.

Criticism has mounted in recent years, both within and outside the industry, about the increasing reliance on models and algorithms in ad-tech. Designed to increase performance and efficiency, the models are often 'black-box' (not transparent in their exact workings) - a fact that more and more advertisers are starting to worry about as they fight to tighten up their understanding of data flows and how users are targeted with adverts.

According to the study this is at the top of mind for many marketers. More than three in five (63%) say that they struggle to reduce bias in models, citing explainable AI and so-called black-box models as important topics. 

The topic is even the most popular priority moving forward. Eight in ten marketers (80%) answer that reducing bias in advertising models is a main priority for their company in the upcoming twelve months. 

Rhys Cater, Managing Director, Precis London comments: “Complying with current regulatory standards is far from enough. If you want to make marketing a good experience for the consumer, it requires a concerted effort to make all engagements with marketing positive and fair, to  treat data with integrity, and act transparently.”

As algorithms in ad platforms become more powerful, and our reliance on them increases, our ability to understand and control how ads are served is diminished.

As advertisers we must challenge the results that algorithms and platforms present to us with both consumer welfare and performance in mind. The classic performance example is remarketing. For advertisers the immediate short-term results can look good, but does it offer a good experience for users in the long run, does it create a good association with your brand and is its impact incremental?”

Nic Travis, Head of Paid Digital Marketing at Lloyds Banking Group adds: “The brands that will benefit in the long run are the ones that are more prudent around the level of consent they get, their transparency and the ones that can educate the users on the value that this consent brings. After all, when the regulation tightens, they will be better prepared for those changes.”

Staffan Mörndal, Partner at the specialist growth equity investment firm, Verdane comments: “From the investor perspective, we look at a company’s ability to generate lifetime value. If a company somehow isn’t treating its customers well, there’s an increased risk they’re not going to come back. The way we see it, unethical marketing creates an unsustainable competitive advantage. Ethics has therefore become an integrated part of Verdane's due diligence process and the way we support our portfolio companies in their marketing” 

To download a copy of the report to review the full findings as well as advice, case studies, and best practise examples please click here.

About the Report

The Marketing Ethics Report 2022 is a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Precis Digital, March 2022. Precis Digital commissioned Forrester Consulting to explore the relationship between digital marketing and consumer privacy and well-being.

The study tested the following hypothesis:

"Previously regarded as best practice, many elements of digital marketing fundamentally conflict with newly identified consumer privacy and well-being, providing a poor user experience."

The respondents were 152 Senior Marketing Leaders at UKI and Nordic organisations with 300-20,000+ employees.

Important Data From the Study

  • Marketing ethics is priority for 86% of firms
  • Half (50%) don’t have a designated person who is responsible for the customer experience and three-quarters don’t have a dedicated marketing ethics leader. From an organisational perspective, firms’ biggest step toward ethical marketing practices centres around customer data management. 
  • Lack of organisational commitment or interest is holding back 50% of UKI firms. 
  • About half of firms (55%) have invested in tools or prioritised explainable artificial intelligence (XAI)
  • Directors flag marketing ethics as a higher priority than VPs & C-levels (84% vs. 67%)
  • VPs & C-levels are 20% more likely than Directors to flag lacking organisational commitment or interest as an issue preventing their organisation from meeting marketing ethics objectives
  • Avoiding the use of black-box models with little understanding or ownership of data processing and outcomes is a big challenge for 57% of UKI firms 

About Precis Digital

Precis Digital is a data-driven digital marketing agency founded in 2012. With an ambition of challenging the status quo within digital marketing, Precis Digital has created a practice that is innovative, effective, and above all transparent. 

Specialising in digital media buying, marketing analytics and ad creative – Precis helps leading brands across industries to drive growth and make marketing a positive experience for their consumers. Through our proprietary technology and innovative approach, we have rapidly become one of the leading agencies in Europe and among the highest-ranking workplaces in Europe. 

About Verdane Capital

Verdane is a specialist growth equity investment firm that partners with tech-enabled and sustainable European businesses to help them reach the next stage of international growth. Verdane can invest as a minority or majority investor, either in single companies or through portfolios of companies, and looks to deploy behind three core themes; the Digital Consumer, Software Everywhere and Sustainable Society.

Verdane funds hold close to €4bn in total commitments and have made over 135 investments in fast-growing businesses since 2003. Verdane’s team of over 100 investment professionals and operating experts, based out of Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Oslo and Stockholm, is dedicated to being the preferred growth partner to tech-enabled and sustainable businesses in Europe.

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