The Future-is-Now; Why Reprieving Privacy Optimization is a Ticking Time Bomb

Over the last decade we’ve seen the ways in which consumer data is collected, used, and regulated change drastically. The door to sophisticated ad personalization has been thrown wide open, and as such the tracking capabilities of marketers have increased fourfold – enabling brands to significantly boost the efficacy of their customer outreach. And in some cases, violate basic consumer privacy rights. 

Ansa Leighton

Ad personalization may seem attractive to marketers, but only 11% of consumers actually enjoy their personal data being used for ad targeting, with 57% actively specifying their dislike for personalized ad targeting, and the methods by which their personal data is used. The days of accessible, observable conversion data are behind us, and privacy optimization has risen to take centre stage.

Where and how we collect, measure and use consumer data will need to change and moving into 2022, we can expect the industry to migrate towards an aggregated and anonymized process of measurement. With governments around the world cracking down on data privacy, the continued deprecation of 3rd party cookies, the recent update from iOS14 with impact tracking-restrictions, and the effects of legislative regulatory frameworks becoming operative, privacy is going to play a key role in all that we do in the coming year, and those that avoid the necessary changes will be left behind for good. 

Privacy optimization is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity.

A Post-Cookie Era

Although heralded as the ‘golden-ticket’ of tracking, cookies are far from a perfect marketing solution and more often than not, contribute to an unclear fragmented data-set across the customer journey. While many will certainly witness a cookie-sized hole in their tracking capabilities come 2023, their deprecation isn’t necessarily a be all that ends all. 

Depending on the type of marketing strategy one executes, some will feel the repercussions of losing cookies more than others. Advertising strategies that rely heavily on 3rd party data won’t have that targeting option in the future, and those relying solely on remarketing the current pixel-audiences will see their audience buckets diminish over a period of time.

With the lack of cookie-data to complete conversion reporting, the gaps in reporting will grow bigger and bigger and those businesses who focus on last-click lower-funnel activities will be impacted the worst – by being left with a limited and inaccurate picture of their consumer’s behaviour.

It is important to understand that there will be no shortcuts offered as cookie alternatives. Or more accurately, there are no alternatives that are worth exploring and/or investing in. Transparency is the key take-out from the privacy first initiative, and although privacy consciousness has a massive impact on advertising dollars, our efforts as publishers & advertisers should not allow, and actively avoid tracking solutions that are “cloak-&-dagger”. 

The days of “cookie-dropping” are soon to be over, and workarounds to illegitimately capture data will be curbed. Advertisers should focus on designing ads that are a lot more relevant to the user, and less invasive. Consider legitimate proposed solutions like open source ID frameworks, Google’s privacy Sandbox, contextual advertising and building out your first party data collection.

Preparing your Business for the Deprecation of Cookies

Although we lack a quick and definite solution to the loss of cookies there are some measurements that advertisers can take to minimize the risk of being left behind, and future proof their marketing data. 

Technology: will be integral to the targeting transition, and brands should consider software that can better help leverage first party data.  The goal is to ensure a persistent, cross-device recognition for a single view of the customer to understand their intent for the purpose of delivering relevant, welcomed messaging. Take proactive steps to appropriately safeguard customer data by implementing software that will help automate the process of consent,  storage and activation.  Running a privacy-audit of your current setup is also a good idea.

Tracking Set-Ups: What does your business use as their source of truth for data analytics and reporting? Do you have a de-duplicated reliable view of your marketing and digital-entity data?  Dual and durable tracking setups need to be considered as a priority for all businesses going into 2022.  

Modelled Data: will be essential to understand your performance (GA4) across the different touch points with your brand. Consider enhancing the user-safe data your website produces to improve the accuracy of your modelled data. User-safe data refers to user data that is captured via logged-in users which should be tied back to offline sales / business data.

Transparency: Make sure you understand what you want to capture from your customers, and what you are going to use it for. Then communicate that reason transparently to the customers upfront and work hard at delivering a relevant experience instead of bombarding them with information that they have no interest in.

Quality content: on your website should be offered as a value exchange for users to want to opt-in, and you will need to get a lot more creative in how you capture the attention, build trust and serve your customers.

UX: Consumers are starting to demand, and expect more from brands when it comes to their online experience. Investing, and improving the UX on your website or app is not a short-term gain, but it will allow you to reap the benefits for years to come. 

Deeper Collaboration: Establish a strong collaboration between partners and brands to ensure a more complete understanding of what is involved to be user centric. Be sure to run dynamic test-and-learn sessions across all channels involved in servicing an optimized user journey (such as personalized creative, landing pages, content etc.)

Investing in the Upper Funnel: By adopting a full-funnel marketing approach, companies can become more relevant to their customers and develop a more accurate picture of their marketing’s overall effectiveness to drive more value.  It is about understanding how each of the stages impacts the other to complete the customer’s journey and touch points with your brand. 

Building Out 1st-Party Data: Ensuring that you capture the details and data that matters most from your 1st-party will be key; a higher quality of data will lead to an improved customer experience, and better marketing practices. The touch-points of your first party data will fall within two buckets; customer data and business data that can be leveraged within an integrated digital strategy. Build out, and collect the data that allows you to establish a two-way relationship with your consumer; communicating why the user should share their personal information with your business, and what are you going to do with it. Email marketing will continue to be one of your most important marketing tactics; consider investing in an effective marketing programme that will allow your business to deepen the relationship with your customers, and retain conversations with those that are at risk of churning.

To Conclude

Depending on how you interpret “privacy optimization“, and keeping in mind that there are serious consequences (which could include criminal fines and/ or penalties) when you fail to comply with data privacy laws, companies are at the risk of not future-proofing their business. As the clock is ticking for 3rd party cookies (specifically), and privacy laws continue to arise,  companies will need to review the way they capture, leverage and use data, to avoid being left behind. 

We are moving towards a privacy-first approach, where first party data is becoming your most valuable asset. It is more critical now than ever to invest in building out first party customer segments to be better placed to activate this data into the future. 

It’s time businesses started using their own data to strengthen these relationships. Understandably this could be a daunting task with so much to consider.  Having an experienced partner to help you navigate this new and unknown territory will ease the anxiety, reduce costly mistakes, and get your business in a position to scale when competitors will be left behind.

For more information on how Incubeta’s team of experts can work as an extension of your business and help you get privacy-ready, get in touch today.

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