How consumers think about online privacy and sharing their data has matured and evolved over the last decade. Transparency over data practices and ensuring security is expected to be a common practice today. To remain compliant and deliver on consumer expectations, companies are developing ways to offer relevant value exchanges at the right place and time.
At the 2022 Big Data London Conference, Dorothy Chong and Lani Kakiet of Treasure Data sat down with Dr. Sachiko Scheuing, European Privacy Officer, Acxiom, to explore what it means to build a privacy-focused data strategy, and the tools that will help organizations get there. (Watch the full talk on YouTube!)
A Privacy-first Landscape
The scope and sophistication of data gathering has been expanding for years, largely out of sight of consumers and governments. But as repeated data breaches and scandals have brought new attention to data collection, growing public awareness has changed personal behavior, along with regulatory action.
Expanding global data privacy regulations will undoubtedly drive broad business attention as more legal action is taken to enforce them. And, the era of privacy legislation is only just beginning. Big tech companies like Apple and Google have begun to limit data collection through their devices and operating systems. There’s also been an emergence of privacy-first alternatives, like the DuckDuckGo search engine and ProtonMail email service.
What companies would usually see as a concern is actually an exciting time in Europe. Authorities are making clear rules for everybody to enable businesses to prosper while they innovate with data.
According to Dr. Scheuing, the United Kingdom is in a very fortunate position. Britain has already had four years working with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Since they no longer have to follow the same rules as the rest of the European Union, they can make their own decision on how to move forward with data privacy.
The UK has started a new consultation process of consequences for potential new regulations. Back then when GDPR was implemented, no such consultation was made. There are a lot of opportunities in the future for the UK to have a much more balanced law for data and privacy.
Fundamentals, however, are not going to change even though the law could. It’s vital to “tidy up your house” and have good practices on handling data. Consider pseudonymizing data—this is something that you can put in place today and will still be useful for the future.
“The more protection you put in place, the more flexible you are in data. The ultimate flexibility would come from anonymization,” Dr. Scheuing added.
What Dr. Scheuing sees the most is companies trying to gain control over their data and how they plan to manage third-party cookie deprecation. Companies are starting to build their own identity graph—not an easiest approach, but highly recommended.
Data Regulations and a Cookieless Future
The biggest immediate impact of increased privacy is the end of third-party cookies. These have been the primary tools to gather visitor data, track consumers across websites, and target programmatic advertising.
This data was, in theory, gathered with the consumer’s consent. But in practice, few consumers were aware of the consents they had granted. New regulations require more clarity and result in fewer acceptances. Further, major browsers are actively blocking, or preparing to block, third-party cookies by default. This cuts off the stream of data needed to build a mass advertising audience.
Cookies were already losing some of their value as traffic shifted to media that doesn’t support cookies, like mobile apps, some mobile browsers, and devices such as smart TVs. Ad blockers further limited the reach of cookie-based ads. While the coverage and depth of cookie-gathered data was convenient and powerful, the advertising industry functioned successfully before cookies appeared and will surely survive into the cookieless future.
How Companies Are Innovating for Data Privacy & Security
Owning your data across channels gives brands more control over protecting consumer data without reliance on third-party cookies. It’s critical for businesses to combine and use their data intelligently to attract and retain customers across the customer lifecycle.
Effective marketers know data privacy regulations are about compliance and customer trust. But building trust in today’s fragmented, complicated global privacy and security landscape requires transparency and choice, and is no easy feat. Part of earning and keeping trust involves targeting and personalization that makes customers feel their individual preferences are known and respected.
Companies are taking several steps to innovate their data strategies with a focus on security, compliance, and exchange of value:
- A first-party data approach. Companies are prioritizing their first-party data and using it to guide practices like audience identification and measurement. First-party data will play a critical role in the path forward. It’s no surprise that a significant number of advertisers are planning to or actively investing in tools required to house and activate first-party data, like customer data platforms.
- Secure relationships with partners. Companies are involving partners and evolving targeting and measurement practices to account for the remaining universe outside of third-party data. Many are exploring data clean rooms and want to understand how they fit into their tech stack. Data clean rooms let brands connect their first-party data with a partner’s datasets in privacy-compliant ways to capture greater signals, power advanced insights, and improve measurement to produce better data-driven outcomes.
- Established governance and united teams. While corporate marketing activities are at the center of data privacy compliance, earning and keeping customer trust and loyalty is everyone’s responsibility. Clear company guidelines, as well as identifying who is responsible for privacy at your company, are key to a consistent customer experience. For customers to really believe that you have their best interests at heart, they’ll need to believe that you listen to and understand their privacy preferences across the board. Given the complexity of consumer-company interactions, a clear, unified profile of every prospect and customer can create trust for years to come.
- A unified data foundation. Tools like CDPs, data warehouses, and data lakes are only useful with the right resources to make sense of the data. A lot of organizations are incredibly wealthy or rich in data, but lack analytics or insights. The critical means to understand and activate your data are the data engineers, data scientists and data experts behind it. If you don’t have people thinking about what you should do with the data, you’re not going to get the most out of it.
Even though data privacy may sometimes feel like the “kiss of death” to marketers, we should take it as a sign to get back to the fundamentals of marketing. At its most basic, marketing is about finding ways to truly connect with prospects with a message that hits home on an emotional level. In response to the right message, consumers are more inclined to share personal contact details, while feeling secure that their data privacy is valued.
Learn more about our data privacy, security, and compliance tools with the Customer Data Cloud.