David Blecken
Feb 19, 2019

Asia, GDPR applies to you too: Tealium GM

Nic Dennis foresees a new age of customer-centricity—provided that companies take the initiative to untangle their data and comply with the rules.

Nic Dennis in Tokyo
Nic Dennis in Tokyo

'Big data' continues to be a source of excitement for marketers, but for many the reality is that it's more a headache than a fount of insight. This has spurred the rise of companies claiming to simplify the process, ensure the data a company holds is legitimate and make it accessible. California-based Tealium is one such outfit, which last year formed a partnership with Hakuhodo in an effort to spread its services in Japan. On a visit to Tokyo from Sydney, the company's newly appointed vice-president and GM for Asia-Pacific, Nic Dennis, spoke to Campaign Asia-Pacific about the challenges around GDPR and first-party data, and what consumers should expect from companies they share their data with.

What does Tealium actually do?

Most companies that want to perform marketing have different tools to help them do the job. As more channels emerge and those channels become more sophisticated, they buy tools over time and can easily end up with 90 different ones, each with information about the customer. The customer’s information exists in many different islands. What we’ve identified as a need is to help collect and cleanse the data, control it to make sure it’s good and shared in accordance with regulations, and circulate it in real time.

What opportunities do you see specific to Japan?

One is data governance—helping clients comply and get the most out of it. The next is data literacy, giving companies the confidence to bring data in-house and treat it as an asset rather than just a responsibility; to use it for increasing sales and customer service. There are so many sources of data coming at companies from all directions. This morning we talked with a client about their 20 different sources of data—how do they process that information around something like the Olympics?

Do marketers in Asia understand what GDPR means for them yet?

At a high level we’ve seen certain companies in Asia believe it’s not relevant to them, or that their business does not need to consider it, and this is proving to be a fallacy. Companies fail to appreciate their reach, and they need to be more diligent in understanding that… They need to make sure they understand who their customers are, work with their legal departments and talk with similar companies to see what’s being done, rather than just making their own judgements.

Is GDPR ultimately good or bad if you’re a marketer?

It’s good and there are really two main reasons. The first is customer trust. Customers feel relieved and want to invest in a relationship rather than trying to protect their data from the vendor they’ve been dealing with. The other advantage is that companies are reorganising to focus on the customer rather than on internal processes. Putting the customer at the centre of things means more efficiency, better service and easier compliance… It requires a paradigm shift to move away from what’s been the traditional process flow. Now companies are looking to engage ‘at scale’ in one-to-one relationships, they have no choice.

That’s the theory, but surely the average consumer still doesn't understand what they’re signing up for.

I think a lot of people do care if their information is being protected and as more customers self-educate and expect better quality engagement, they will start to want to understand what’s happening with their data and what’s in it for them. So there is an awareness process over time that everyone goes through.

What is in it for them?

They will get a certain level of service if they offer a certain level of trust. If I’m looking for a high level of service, I’d be looking to why and how I get that.

How can companies make better use of first-party data?

It’s just the simple discipline of understanding the data flow, making sure it’s efficient, correct and ending up where it needs to. They need to review who gets what data and how they can get more value out of what they’ve got. At the moment, there’s too much data sitting in too few end points. It’s not just sales that can benefit from better use of data but also customer service.

Campaign Japan

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