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We are living in a digitized era where trust and transparency have recently become the bone of contention, demanding an evolution in online protection. Advances in technology, internet penetration, and the proliferation of social media have revolutionized advertising and marketing, but also opened the door to a barrage of dangers. From ad fraud to counterfeit products to impersonation, they are all impacting market reputation, declining consumer trust, and hurting the bottom line.

Marketers have been working hard to build brands in their consumers’ minds for it is the brand that ignites emotion and leads the consumer to make a decision. From brand awareness to brand protection, marketers and brands are now realizing the importance of taking care of the whole pie and not just a part of it.

An extension to brand safety now is ‘data safety’ because brands are now at the risk of facing reputational damage if their customer’s data are not being used appropriately. Toxic data, the shadowy threat which stares right into the brand’s eyes and plans a kill in one stroke.

The killer whale: Toxic data

Toxic data is the data collected and used without the explicit consent of the consumer.

Since time immemorial, the data-driven ad-tech industry has been tracking consumer behavior and collecting personal information without permission.

Under the pretext of personalization and accurate targeting, the ad-tech industry today is marred by toxic data. But with changing times, consumers are evolving and are aware of data breaches, understanding data safety, and expect brands to respect their privacy and uphold the trust. The evolved consumer understands that their data is being stolen and when they are served with ads without being asked for permission, this leads to a decline in trust between the consumer and the brand, thus hurting a brand’s reputation. In countries like Europe where GDPR rules are stringent and in India where data privacy laws are being worked upon, it may be safe to say that stealing someone’s data without consent and permission is illegal?

Now, is your brand safe if you are indulging in illegal activities? No chance in hell. The basic tenets of brand safety are making sure that the brand is not involved in fraudulent and criminal activities.

Customer is king and they should have full control over the data they own and the choice of whether to experience digital advertisement. Not just consent, it should be a trusted and traceable path that does not hamper the relation of the brand with its consumers. Marketers and brands should carefully choose their ad-tech partners and publishers for transparent delivery of ads. Just like it is important to make sure that the ad is seen in a safe environment, it is imperative for brands to ensure that the data they use is safe for advertising purposes. Data safety ensures that the brand is safe from legal, reputational challenges.

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