A new frontier for data privacy by design: Ten ways to utilise CSP weblogs

Viewpoint Article

By Bill Danner, EVP Americas, Intent HQ

Telecommunication companies sometimes veer away from an incredibly rich, yet underutilised dataset – data already in their possession – weblog data. Concerns about privacy, scalability challenges, and fears of potential misuse have created significant hesitation. This has been stopping Communication Service Providers (CSPs) from leveraging their weblogs to offer more relevant marketing and from monetising this Internet traffic data that they already log and analyse routinely for network engineering purposes.

However, the privacy/compliance teams at CSPs increasingly believe that the magic formula is to fully figure out the ways to encourage opt-in, while handling weblog data safely, especially for marketing purposes. Senior leadership teams perceive the risks, in general, but are interested in monetising this valuable asset, without compromise or loss of customer confidence. Simultaneously, the marketing teams don’t know what steps to ask the IT department to implement in order to use weblog data safely.

Privacy-first use of weblogs is possible today, and there is growing interest in proven capabilities that will give early adopters a competitive head-start. What is needed to take advantage of this richest of data sources is a digital platform capable of delivering privacy by default right from the outset, which eliminates any risks.

How can this be achieved? Is this possible? How can CSPs find the right balance, being respectful of customer data and yet harnessing its power to deliver the relevance customers expect? In parallel, how can they protect and grow their revenue streams by safely monetising their data assets, while maintaining consumer and brand confidence?

The answer may seem simple, but delivering the end result is not easy. The key is to put customer protection first. Meet or exceed the regulations by engineering privacy into the way all customer data is processed and then optimise its treatment to reveal the richest possible insights for marketers.

Sharing information with data scientists, privacy experts, and IT practitioners has facilitated meaningful conversations about how to overcome the concerns entrenched in CSPs about weblogs. Importantly, they don’t need to surmount the challenges alone.

Here are 10 best practices plus first-hand observations, learnings and recommendations that could transform the way CSPs approach the use of weblog data:

Under GDPR, a telecom needs customer consent to use weblogs for most marketing purposes. Gaining this customer consent for a modest fraction of customers isn’t difficult. This fraction is often more than enough people to support a proof of concept for use of this data.
Customer identities should be protected throughout all processing. Even consented customers should have their identities tokenised, so identities are never exposed to employees (and vendors) working with the data.
Weblogs should be summarised and converted into a form that generates insights about many customers, independent of any one customer’s identity, early in the processing. This ensures that insights connect to the common actions of groups of customers, making the insights non-invasive and more practical.
Some data elements in a consented customer profile may be inappropriate to use as criteria for selection or treatment in some kinds of marketing campaigns. For example, the result could be discriminatory. The use of these data elements should be systematically controlled.
Weblogs can reveal far more detail than marketers need, far more than they have the capacity to use. Deep packet inspection, showing what a consumer did on each website, is “Too Much Information.” Truncating URLs to block this detail requires expertise but isn’t hard to implement.
Consented customers may change their mind and opt out. Systems must support this processing seamlessly.
Data protection also requires a clear policy for data retention. We recommend 24 months or less for the inferences derived from weblogs.
Security is the foundation of privacy. Without strong data security, there can be no privacy.
Analysing vast weblog data requires “data minimisation”, following the principle of select, omit, truncate and summarise to ensure data privacy and processing efficiency. Parallel processing technology can also support projects dealing with massive, internet-scale data.
Insights are most effectively extracted using semantic analysis and natural language processing, supported by domain-specific AI and machine learning. This helps to solve any issues created by language nuances, ambiguity, correlation, and bias.

When used correctly, data science and marketing teams can use weblogs to significantly improve their own models, including those that predict churn, delivering up to 3x return on investment and sustainable data monetisation. Understand how to build in privacy by design and outsmart your competition.


Bill Danner is EVP, Americas at Intent HQ



Author biog

Bill Danner has over three decades of experience working as a senior executive and corporate marketing specialist. Currently EVP of Americas at Intent HQ, he is the global consumer data privacy lead for the company and focuses on consumer data protection initiatives. He also supports the operations, business development and planning departments within the Americas team. Bill believes that privacy is an essential element of true personalization, partly because of rapid changes in regulations, but mainly because personalization cannot succeed without customer trust. As a provider of marketing technology, privacy-by-design is critical to the success of Intent HQ.

Bill has a BA in Economics from Harvard University, an MBA from Harvard Business School and completed an Executive Programme in Digital Marketing Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the IAPP. Prior to joining Intent HQ, Bill was President and COO of financial technology company CreditRiskMonitor (CRMZ).


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