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5 Questions with Ross Webster, Factual’s New Managing Director of Europe

Ross Webster, who recently joined the Factual team in London as Managing Director of Europe, talks to us about the state of the European marketing industry, working with responsible data partners, and his favorite thing to do in London.

What initially attracted you to Factual, and what ultimately influenced your decision to join the team?

I have worked with Factual for many years, so I was fully aware of the quality of the product as well as the inspiring culture and positive values of the company. Alongside, Factual’s reputation for transparency in the current market all ticked a lot of my boxes.

What do you see as the most significant challenge in the European marketing industry right now, and what do you see as the most significant opportunity?

Without a doubt, the importance of protecting the privacy of the consumer and their data seems to be underlying all digital media.

From a digital point of view, I worry that much of the solutions that the existing industry are building are designed to circumnavigate the need for increased privacy, rather than making privacy at the centre of the proposition.  

Data also represents the biggest opportunity for marketers. We are at the beginning of a journey that will see data revolutionise the marketing process. At the moment, data still seems an add-on to many of the marketing processes, or an aid to existing marketing functions. However, I think data will be iconoclastic for the industry. The current in-housing trend is just the beginning of leveraging the power of data for the marketer. Responsible collection, storage and application of growing data available will be key, and I think the smart marketers and media owners are realising the opportunity.

What should marketers be focused on as they head into 2020?

There are the obvious macro issues to be aware of – the position in the economic cycle, Brexit, increased privacy legislation.   

From a tactical and strategic point of view, however, I think the increased availability and ability to leverage data assets, to structure and take control of it all will drive huge value to marketers’ endeavours.  

The industry is constantly evolving, and we can see Moore’s Law apply to marketing as marketers increasingly have greater ability to leverage their assets across a wider scope, faster than ever before, allowing better activation methodologies, measurement and attribution, and insight generation.

With so much data available today, what steps should marketers take to ensure they’re working with responsible data partners? 

Marketers need to develop a thorough data strategy that’s carried out through an established set of policies and best practices that are broadly understood across their organization. Global privacy laws are constantly evolving, so data strategies must be adaptable. 

When it comes to striking the right partnerships, marketers need to ensure they understand their data provider’s approach to data collection, consent gathering and privacy policies. They also need to understand how those providers package their data. For instance, with location data, it’s unnecessary to include raw data feeds or individual customer journey feeds when aggregated data packaged by design to be benign (such as audience segments) will do.

If I only have 24 hours in London, where should I go?

My family background is Canadian, so we have a steady stream of cousins passing through London. 

The favourite thing to do is a pub crawl from east to west taking in a lot of London’s history through the pubs, from Prospect of Whitby in Wapping to The Grenadier in Mayfair. A route where you can drink in the history of Jack the Ripper, Charles Dickens, Judge Jeffries, George Orwell, Elizabeth I and the Duke of Wellington. I find the history of London fascinating, and by the time you try the famous Bloody Mary in The Grenadier you feel like you’ve lived a lot of it.

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