Mobile data usage should be carefully considered if marketers want to win consumer trust, a recent Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) seminar on the subject concluded.

Last month’s session, Mobile Data: Cross-screen, Location, Privacy and more, took a close-up look at the trends and emerging technologies affecting mobile advertising, and how privacy-conscious consumers are dictating the path of industry innovation.

Here’s a quick-fire summary of the biggest discussion points:

Trust and the GDPR

Trust is vital to the sustainability of the mobile ecosystem but data concern is making it hard to earn. According to Rimma Perelmuter, CEO at MEF, “the days when companies could collect personal data without giving back are long gone.” Individuals want full transparency and until it arrives, data anxiety will remain: 40% of consumers avoid downloading apps due to trust issues. So, it’s no surprise the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is being hailed as just what the mobile advertising industry needs.

To process EU data, companies in all global markets must soon provide the disclosure consumers demand — including why and how their data is used — which could significantly strengthen brand confidence. Yet, Chloe Grutchfield, Verve’s Product and Data Director, advised there are challenges too. Aside from following new rules, such as gaining consent for data access, there are also pitfalls to avoid; like the potential for anonymised data to be re-identified if not adequately secured. Getting the new regulations right is crucial, not just to retain consumer trust, but also to ensure the continued profitability of mobile.

No more cookies

The cookie is running out of options on mobile. It’s value as a tracking tool on the medium has been questionable for a while, as it can’t be transferred between apps and browsers. But with Apple closing the loophole that has allowed third parties to drop first-party cookies on desktop, it is only a matter of time before a similar mobile move brings an end to the cookie.

According to Joy Dean, Partnerships and Platform Sales Director for Widespace, the industry needs to rethink its digital strategy for collecting mobile data. And the best way to do this is via sophisticated tools. For example, machine learning offers many ways to improve mobile messaging; such as predictive tools that can target ads based on audience similarities. And progressive tools like device fingerprinting can also be deployed as a viable source of user and device insight, as long as data is anonymised.

Assuring data quality

There’s no doubt correct data implementation is vital, but how can marketers ensure data is above board without full visibility? This was the key question when Phil Guest, Smartpipe’s CRO, put the spotlight on data provenance. While impression validation is helping marketers achieve a better understanding of audiences, data quality varies. At present, most brands are either “fishing from the same pools” of third-party data or making deals with media giants such as Facebook and Google. It’s becoming apparent that an alternative, high-quality data source is required and mobile networks are stepping in to fill the breach.

As traditional revenue streams decline — voice calls, roaming charges — networks are exploring different ways of monetising their asset, including data. By opening up extensive stores of information, mobile operators are fostering a third mobile identity ecosystem that provides marketers with choice, high-quality information, and the clarity needed to protect consumers.

AI and the future of mobile

Together, artificial intelligence (AI) and data are the ultimate mobile advertising combination, enabling marketers to seamlessly connect with audiences. For example, chat bots can use consumer data to nurture leads and smart algorithms can establish which ads individuals prefer. Indeed, 80% of marketers believe AI will revolutionise marketing within the next 15 years.

Yet, Jack Edmonds, LoopMe’s Head of Agency Sales, feels one of its overlooked advantages is making data more manageable. If we take just one data point — such as the 1.8 million photos uploaded on social media platforms every day — it’s easy to see why keeping track of data can be difficult. AI, however, can solve this problem by analysing multiple data points at once; producing a precise picture of what data should be used, and how.

For now, uncertainty about the way brands handle mobile data is limiting trust and progress. But with the GDPR guiding usage and the industry taking steps to apply it sensitively, the next few years will bring unprecedented opportunities for mobile marketers and audiences. After all, we are still only at the start of a data revolution that has a long way to go.