I attended the recent FT Digital Media Conference 2013. As ever, it was full of useful insights and I highly recommend viewing the sessions which are available on demand here. Mostly, it was about incremental change. There were lots of stats and discussion about the year on year growth of digital as a % of media businesses, the proliferation of VOD platforms on TV and mobile, the presssure on advertisers to integrate their ads into content on games and other media to keep viewers' attention, the ongoing challenge for newspapers to monetise their content and generally for traditional publishers and others to transform their existing business models. According to a couple of speakers, digital is now 30% of media businesses and Martin Sorrell of WPP said that 34% of WPP's business is now digital.
But the one theme that, for me at least, really stood out, was data. You name it - big, open, smart, social, CRM and every other kind of data was present in almost every panel. What was really interesting was not just the fact that the gathering, analysis and use of customer and other data gathered online is a core marketing function, it's the way that data management is now at the very heart of business. The language and discourse of media business has changed. One speaker talked about the need for data scientists who can take raw data and push it through their analytic tools and algorithms. Another said "organisations are increasingly data-centric". A representative of The Weather Channel described their business as "a data science and technology company as well as a media company."
Whilst much of the discussion was about customer data gathered via the web and social media, the issue of data is much broader. The availability of open data, the midata initiative and other data sources makes a strategic approach to data management absolutely essential.
My legal eagle readers involved in this area of the law will already have their eyes on the draft EU Regulation which will replace the existing regime set out in Directive 95/46/EC. It contains measures that will harmonise data protection procedures and enforcement across the EU, and aims to achieve consistency with the existing system for ensuring privacy online, which is set out in the Directive 2002/58/EC (E-Privacy Directive).
I cannot claim any great insight in saying that data protection and privacy is really important to all organisations. Not "just" at the level of legal compliance but at the heart of the brand - just think about Bloomberg's current problems with disclosure of user's data. Sometimes it takes time for the message to sink in. But my tip for anyone looking to build their legal career in the online sector is become a data law expert.
Against this background, the Regulation will extend the impact of data protection law. For instance, it's expected to have a significant impact on data controllers and processors who are active within the EU, including many who are located outside it but who monitor the behaviour of EU consumers, or offer them goods or services online. Data processors will now explicitly be included in the scope of the data protection regime.
In addition, the definition of "data subject" will now make it clear that "personal data" includes all data that can identify an individual, whether that data is held by the data controller himself or by a third party which, in combination with the data held by the controller, could identify the data subject.
So for data scientists and data lawyers, things are getting to get really busy.
Have a good week,