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Take care when using apps to gather data, IPM says

Marketers using mobile or online apps as part of a promotion must respect consumers’ rights and their concerns over potential misuse of data, the Institute of Promotional Marketing is advising its members.   

Marketers should be crystal clear about what they plan on doing with any information they collect, and they should only ask for the bare minimum.   

Ruth Hobbs, IPM Legal Advisory Service consultant and an expert on the use of apps and social media in promotions, says: “There is a temptation to use apps to collect data you have no use for right now, but think may be valuable in the future. However, best practice is to collect only the minimum necessary for the efficient running of a promotion, or to achieve the campaign objectives, and to get consumer consent.”   

Hobbs, who has worked closely with Facebook on drawing up a set of guidelines on running promotions on the popular social media platform, points out that Facebook will only accept apps that collect just the data needed for the promotion.   

She adds: “If Facebook thinks you are asking for information you don’t need, then they can – and have – pulled campaigns.”   

The issue of apps and data collection, retention and use is on the agenda in Brussels right now, as part of the debate over a new Data Protection Directive which should be introduced in 2015. The current Data Protection Directive is nearly 20 years old, and needs updating.   

The new Directive may require that marketers explain exactly what they want to use every piece of data for, and get consumers to state categorically that they understand these proposed uses, one by one, and that they consent to them. The UK position is that this is extreme and would put an impossible burden on businesses.   

Various bodies, including the Information Commissioner’s Office, Ofcom, the Direct Marketing Association and the Internet Advertising Bureau UK have published guidelines on data collection and consumer consent, including via apps.