How Data-Driven Marketing Builds Trust


Data collection is core to marketing strategy, now more so than ever, allowing marketers to understand their consumers and improve customers’ experience. With increased data usage, marketers are faced with the challenge of creating a transparent, trusting relationship with their consumers.

“Reap the benefits of data-driven marketing, but also put the same energy in making sure that there’s accountability in place,” said Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever. “A brand without trust is just a product. Advertising without trust is just noise.”

A brand without trust is just a product. Advertising without trust is just noise.


With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility

Michelle Peluso, SVP and CMO of IBM, outlined three key principles for marketers working with data:

  • Believe data is being used to make the product service offering better for the customer.
  • Provide transparency about what data is being captured and used.
  • Provide easy ways for consumers to opt in and opt out of sharing their data.

“Generally, people are always willing to make the trade: information for better experiences,” she said. “But we have to make sure that is straightforward and transparent and easy for consumers.”

On the CES 2019 stage, Peluso and Weed agreed that proving accountability with data ownership drives businesses forward, creating a customer-centric business model that better serves people.

Advertisement with Representation

In building trust, marketers should also provide opportunities for consumers to feel represented with the company. In 2016, Unilever conducted a survey that found that 40 percent of the time, women said they did not identify with ads.

“That doesn’t reflect the women I know. You can make better advertising if you un-stereotype,” Weed said.

They also found that in Unilever ads, progressive ads performed 23 percent better. Using this data, Unilever and the United Nations Women formed the Unstereotype Alliance, an initiative that seeks to eradicate harmful gender- based stereotypes in media and advertising.

“There has never been a better time to make progress,” said Peluso, who spoke of IBM’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. “There is more pipeline than ever before. There are more models for how to recruit and retain great people of color, gender diversity, etc.”

Tech Advances Versus Trust

Advances in technology, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, have opened up avenues for data-driven marketing, but with the exponentially increasing pool of information comes new concerns about data responsibility, and how marketers are treading the line between effective advertisement and “creepiness.”Reflecting on the history of other technological advances, Weed said, “We are going to get to that stage where artificial intelligence has that same all-powerful approach, if it’s handled responsibly.”

For him, it’s a simple matter of companies using common sense.Speaking about blockchain, Peluso highlighted how the technology is bringing transparency to transactions, seen particularly in the food tech industry.

The increasing focus on transparency and trust and a growth in understanding data ownership will help modern marketers form new bonds between their companies and their customers.

This article first appeared in

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