Digital marketers and the brands they work with need to start preparing now for the effects of POPI.
That was the key message from one of the presentations at the recent IAB SA Digital Summit. Elizabeth de Stadler, CEO of Novation Consulting, said the main change in the digital marketing model would be a shift from an opt-out form of consent to an opt-in one. Current South African law stipulates you can contact whoever you want through digital channels, such as email or SMS, until they tell you to stop.
“In the past the emphasis was heavily on ‘ok, let’s get the customers details and then we’ll start sending them direct marketing’. Now you have to get their consent in the first place,” she explained.
This is not necessarily a bad thing for brands because they’ll likely end up with smaller contact lists, but of higher quality, because consumers have chosen to invest in them and have a vested interest.
A double opt-in
But if you are in the business of buying and selling leads, POPI may be more troublesome, as you will effectively need double consent from consumers: To sell their info and to provide it to a third party who would then contact them.
Two important notes for brands: Firstly, customer consent must be voluntary, specific and informed, and if their saying ‘no’ means they don’t have access to a service, then that becomes extortion. Secondly, you need to get consent from your current contact lists, unless you told them they would be marketed to and there is always an unsubscribe option available. Also crucial to note is there’s a big difference between unsolicited digital marketing and your consumers signing up for your newsletter. They have already given their consent for the latter.
Start preparing now
While POPI is still roughly two years away from full implementation, digital marketers and brands can still make moves now to ensure they are prepared for the transition.
De Stadler’s advice to them is:
- Do some investigative research and ensure you know where your contact data came from.
- Implement a strategy to clean the data (i.e. get consent from those on the list to be included).
- Ensure that an unsubscribe option is present in all your direct marketing material.
Will regulators have the resources to actually police POPI?
There have been instances in which new regulations are introduced, but are not enforced or policed because the regulator does not have the resources or power to do so. Asked whether she is confident Pansy Tlakula and her team are capable of regulating POPI, De Stadler responded, “The devil is always in the budget and South Africa is going through a time when austerity measures are being put in place … A regulator is rarely a reason to do something”. However, she does believe that given enough time, the regulator will find its feet and be able to effectively enforce POPI.
Not all bad news
While many people are pointing out the negatives of POPI, de Stadler said it is “a good piece of legislation” as it will improve a brand’s ability to service international clients with data-driven services. POPI was based on European legislation, which is great for South Africa, as we can look at the GPR legislation there and see what they did. De Stadler added that another benefit of POPI is that it would help weed out the seedy direct marketers from the genuine, ethical ones.
Go back to basics
Another standout presenter at the Digital Summit was Carmen Murray, founder of Boo-Yah! Her presentation, entitled Mobile as the Catalyst and Enabler of the Connected Marketer, touched on how marketers could get even closer to consumers through digital channels. Her advice to everyone, with a tsunami of trends happening in today’s world? The best thing marketers can do is go back to basics.
Act like a human and think like a brand
But arguably the most well received talk on the day was Musa Kalenga’s presentation. It highlighted how brands should focus more on changing people’s lives than growing revenue.
“The only thing that will keep us top of the food chain is to acknowledge that humanity is the new black… Being human is good for business,” he stressed.
“Technology should always be the slave to humanity… We have to create meaningful solutions at the intersection of technology and humanity … We need impactful marketing with people at the core, empathy. Empathy is not insight, you can’t source empathy,” he added.
He also called out the marketing industry for its lack of transformation, saying if marketers don’t diversify they will find it hard to survive.
An insightful day at the 2018 IAB SA Digital Summit with three standout speakers, each with a strong message that needs to be noticed. Here are some photos from the event.
Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist at Wag the Dog, publishers of The Media Online and The Media. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBratt8