According to a recent survey, only 36% of Kenyan businesses are aware of privacy laws governing their marketing activities, despite Data Protection Act (DPA) being in effect since 2019. The survey, conducted by WorldWideWorx and commissioned by global technology company Zoho, also revealed that even though businesses are concerned about the privacy of customer’s data in the hands of third-party vendors, they are reliant on them for revenue generation and gathering customer insights. This makes it harder for them to move away.
According to WorldWideWorx CEO Arthur Goldstuck, the lack of awareness about the law is largely because these regulations are not part of business-critical activities like taxation and licensing. However, 77% of the businesses indicated that they have well-documented policies for customer data protection, although only 56% are strictly applying them.
Third-party trackers and ad platforms
Businesses in Kenya consider themselves digitally advanced, with 28% respondents saying they were completely digital and 18% saying they were close to being completely digital.
Of the 352 businesses surveyed across various industries and sizes, 58% said they allow third-party trackers on their website, mostly for sharing content on social media (64%), tracking affiliate relationships (45%) and ad campaigns (43%). There is also a heavy dependence on digital ad platforms. The respondents believe that keyword search ads (36%) and social media ads (62%) were quite effective for customer conversion. In fact, 84% businesses said the third-party ad platforms either help them meet or are a primary factor in achieving their sales targets.
Given this reliance on third-party vendors, it is no wonder then that, even though 56% of businesses express concern over the use of their customer’s data, they are largely either ‘comfortable’ or ‘neither comfortable nor uncomfortable’ with the platforms. Even the 10% who are uncomfortable state they cannot move away from the platforms as they are crucial to their business or that it is too complex to move away. Interestingly, 24% businesses reported that they do not completely understand how third-party vendors utilise their customer information.
“When businesses choose to use a free tracker, they are paying for it with their consumer’s data,” said Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager for Africa, Zoho. “At Zoho, we refer to this practice of third-party trackers collecting data without user knowledge as adjunct surveillance. Presently, Kenyan businesses turn a blind eye to this passive data collection by trackers, most likely, because they are dependent on them for revenue. However, consumers will eventually trust companies with transparent privacy policies that protect their personal information. Businesses hoping to stay relevant in the long term will need to either rethink their reliance on third-party platforms or demand greater transparency and accountability from them.”
Zoho had removed third-party trackers from its website in 2020, and has never sold customer data to anyone or shown ads, even in their free products. Zoho also owns its data centres and the entire technology stack of its solutions. It can, therefore, assure its users of the highest standards of privacy and security.
Kenyan businesses believe that DPA either has had no effect (46%) or a positive effect (39%). Their biggest concerns with the law are increased cost of governance (45%), increased complexity (27%) and the loss of analytics data (29%).
This study was conducted using Zoho Survey and Zoho Analytics.