Incubeta Ignite: Am I A Bad Person?

Read Time: 2 minutes

Outside of the world of advertising, data has fueled huge leaps forward in education, science and healthcare. Closer to home, we know how crucial data is for driving effective advertising campaigns. But recent news developments have made me think: am I a bad person?

Surveillance is one of the biggest concerns. That some of the work we do as advertisers might be intruding on a consumer’s privacy will go against many of our moral codes. This being said, the purpose of big data is not surveillance. The definition of surveillance is “the careful watching of a person or place”, which certainly doesn’t tally with what we do. 

As advertisers, we aggregate information to find common themes, meaning the vast majority of our data actions should be anonymous. So while surveillance might be the word of the day, that doesn’t reflect how we work with big data.

We cannot deny that data has been used to exploit – but every commodity can be used to exploit if it falls into the wrong hands. To date, it certainly fallen into the wrong hands – think Cambridge Analytica, the EU referendum, and presidential elections – but this is nothing new. Newspaper, radio, TV; all have been used throughout history for political gain. So how can we rebuild the public’s opinion and confidence, and use it for a force of good?


  • Be Clear: Make sure your audience knows what you’re collecting and how it will be used. This means no legal jargon, just plain English explaining the data collection.
  • Be Secure: Ensure that data security runs through your organisation. Data breaches typically occur because someone in the organisation didn’t follow a process intended to protect consumer data. To cut the risk of this, make sure that from day one, all of your employees understand the importance of data security.
  • Be Helpful: Use data to aid, not obstruct. We should be using data to serve ads that are relevant and beneficial to the consumer, not ones that annoy them. Helpful ads are successful ads, and data allows us to improve our relevancy.
  • Be Honest: Use messaging that resonates but doesn’t mislead. While we know it allows us to be relevant, we also know it can be used to prey on people’s fears and mislead them. 

The key here is that we all must make a concerted effort to change. Moving towards more transparent data practices must be done in union. If we work together, we can reinvent what data means to the public, rather than allowing those with more nefarious motives to dictate public opinion. 

It is Damien’s hope that in ten years time, as we look back on the decade, we can see how data has allowed people to live longer, how education levels across the world are higher, and how data has helped us to face and solve the climate crisis.

You can download Damien’s slides here.