Three Transparency Tips to Aid Global Business Growth

By Henry Schenker, VP of APAC, Tapad -- Regardless of your industry, it goes without saying that transparency is not an option. If you’re in automotive, consumers should know what to expect in regards to gas mileage, speed, etc. If you’re in the food business, you should be able to tell patrons where exactly the ingredients were sourced, and how fresh they are. Consumers routinely want to know what they’re getting, and this isn’t any different for the advertising industry. Regardless if you’re a vendor, publisher, brand, etc. - establishing trust with consumers is crucial to ensuring both their privacy and safety, as well as the longevity of your product.

This has been a pinnacle part of Tapad’s policies and business strategy since our inception in 2010. At the time, we were the only true cross-device provider, but things in advertising technology were changing rapidly and many players were moving fast to get ahead of the competition. However, we knew that if we wanted to: a) grow globally; and b) ensure a privacy conscious approach wherever we launched; that taking our time to ensure consumer trust and transparency was non-negotiable. We also knew that we couldn’t just think about privacy in the present, but that we should be flexible to adopt privacy standards in markets that were more stringent, such as EMEA. Many times, Tapad has even walked away from potential business due to user privacy being our top priority.

For any company on the brink of expanding, there are a couple things we’ve learned along the way that can help ensure transparency and privacy stay top-of-mind during global growth:

● Know your news: Paying attention to current events and regulations is crucial to maintaining global transparency. The forthcoming GDPR regulations in Europe are a key example of this. Before expanding to APAC, Tapad was first operating in the U.S. and EMEA. We never doubted our commitment to remain in markets with a high priority on data privacy laws like Europe, and being quick to adapt to new industry changes in one region could impact our conversations in another. While GDPR doesn’t directly impact APAC, knowing that a company has already been vetted thoroughly for these kinds of compliance and legal standards inspires confidence with potential clients. Knowing your current market is of course valuable, but seeing trends in others may point you to where the industry is headed, and best prepare you to already be setup - ahead of competitors - for new regulations.

● Don’t assume a “one-size-fits-all” strategy: Anyone familiar with APAC markets can tell you that what works in Japan may not resonate with audiences in Australia. A successful business entry into Korea might mean something completely different than Indonesia. Tapad has taken a nuanced approach to really everything we do in Asia, from marketing, to product features, and translating resources. Beyond our overall business operations, Tapad conducted a several-month privacy assessment for the entire region. We looked at each country in Asia as a separate privacy challenge, and considered each in a silo as well as in the broader APAC contexts. Certain markets were a no-brainer, i.e. they have adopted solid, open policies around privacy, and others we had to approach much more carefully. Adopting this approach for any major market is key to making sure you are transparent in a way that resonates with each, unique audience.

● Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes: For any company, it can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks and forget that we’re also users of the internet. The best way to maintain trust then is to never do something that feels the slightest bit “iffy” when it comes to potentially breaking trust with consumers. This might be easier said than done as your company becomes larger and potentially more complicated, but staying true to your end-consumer is vital. One good way to start is to make sure your privacy policy is easy to find and decipher. If a customer is looking to opt-out, don’t make it a hindrance to do so. If they want to know what exact data is being collected, be forthright with that information. Just as you would want to know what’s exactly in the meal you ordered, the end-customer wants to know what information is in your data “cookbook”. In addition, maintaining relationships with industry organizations that focus on privacy and self-regulation, like the DAA and NAI in the U.S., can go a long way. Just as you would look to third-party reviews before booking a hotel or restaurant, having accountability for privacy by outside organizations will help build credibility.

Spending the time to take privacy seriously at the beginning stages of your company will pay off in dividends. We’ve seen this first-hand at Tapad. From day one, we have been consistently devoted to user empowerment and control when it comes to their data, including having a completely transparent set of policies to make sure consumers know when and how data is collected online, and that they have easy access to say “no thanks”. As a result, we have been able to scale quickly and, in just one year, open offices in both Singapore and Oslo, Norway. Upholding customer transparency and privacy is a privilege, and if it’s done right it can - and should be - a point of pride for your company.

(Originally posted on The Drum)