How marketers can future-proof their brands in a privacy-first era

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Faced with the public’s growing concerns over data privacy, stringent legislation and plans to phase out the third-party cookie, Ben Poole charts out how marketers must rethink their strategies.

Faced with the public’s growing concerns over data privacy, strict legislations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), PIPL (Personal Information Protection Law) which governs data security, and internet companies’ plans to phase out the third-party cookie, marketers are finding themselves having to navigate increasingly complex digital landscapes. The pressure on marketers to find new ways to tackle such complexities is daunting.

With the clock ticking, how will marketers reduce the risks that are most pertinent in media targeting, media budget optimisation as well as customer experience analysis and optimisation? On the flipside, what are some of the opportunities marketers should look for when building newer and innovative approaches to help them develop strategies that are more respectful of users’ privacy while preserving marketing efficiency? 

A good starting point is understanding the remaining data that is available to access, before devising a strategy to leverage this data that will help to deliver personalised experiences for consumers.

To do this, we can look at three most recent trends that influence today’s digital marketing activities: Behavioural (40.6% of Asia internet users use ad blockers), technological (24% of users worldwide use Safari & Firefox) and regulatory (mobile cookie rejection rate is up to 75%).

These trends will continue to be reinforced and will not be stopped.

This shift is taking place as privacy comes from the consumer, and businesses must put them at the centre of their user-first initiatives. The root cause of the issue is a historically unequal value-exchange between consumers, brands and third-party adtech players looking to gain insight into customer behaviours, in order to provide better online experiences and drive revenue.

Beyond trends, marketers must consider the following three 'must-knows' when navigating an organisation around privacy impacts and for you to be able to self-assess resilient solutions:

  1. How do your current marketing activities work with cookies and other trackers?  Measurement-wise, third-party cookies are used to link on-site conversions to media touchpoints. They are used to create audiences based on your website activity and make reaching these audiences elsewhere possible.
     
  2. What exactly are the new data restrictions? Privacy limitations imposed by devices and browsers make it difficult for publishers to keep track and adapt their marketing actions. While regulations governing data privacy and security are not consistent everywhere, Europe’s GDPR has set the standard and we see a trend in Asia shifting towards stricter consent rules.
     
  3. How will they impact use cases and audiences? The impacts vary across the consumer journey and depend on the use cases. For example, post view attribution is severely impacted, while functional A/B tests and contextual targeting are not.

Given that not all audiences and parts of one's media mix will be impacted equally, it is important to assess exposure in this changing digital landscape. For example, some of the most-used internet browsers such as Safari, Firefox, Apple iOS have already stopped supporting third-party trackers. This has reduced the pool of audience for advertising reach and impacted the precision of advertising performance measurements.

The stricter regulations on their end lead to a significant increase in the number of visitors who will not provide consent to have their profile data used for web browsing personalisation, also known as non-consented audiences. Programmatic display, for instance, will be strongly impacted, given it is founded upon third-party cookie-based audiences with consent.

On the contrary, some channels and players have shown more resistance to consented marketing. Across APAC, we see a growing prominence in walled garden advertising, which rely on resilient logged-in data to drive engagement with audiences.

Finding the right approach

As we transit into the cookie-less era, marketers should consider the following two approaches when looking to optimise digital activation.

The first approach is consent-based marketing as first-party data will be secured and highly valued, whether it be advertisers own data used standalone, or in combination with walled-gardens people-based data (anonymised).

The second approach is cohorts marketing, which is the use of aggregated, anonymised data when no consent is given, to sustain marketing efforts. To that end, browsers such as Chrome and operating systems are working to define default targeting techniques (Google’s Chrome Topics) or measurement techniques (for instance Apple aggregated measurement) to keep relevant insights while never pinpointing individual users.

As the landscape continues to evolve, it is important to define a set of factors that can help to measure short- and long-term success. As marketers transit to a privacy-first era, prioritise actionability that will enable you to take immediate-to-execute steps to get you ready for the future. For example, raise awareness among stakeholders on topics and issues covering privacy. Marketers should also challenge the list of existing and new use cases to find new ways or improve on existing approaches to drive better results.

Over the next few months, marketers must also prioritise evangelising internal stakeholders on new strategies based on marketing technologies, particularly as this is a complex topic and requires consistent education to drive awareness. Additionally, given the diverse needs of the various departments in the company, such as legal and technology teams, it is essential to simplify the strategic approach and harmonise this across markets.

Moving forward, we must always respect consumers’ privacy choices and help to empower them. As marketers, we must start thinking about the value we can bring to consumers, in order to keep or generate resilient data.


Ben Poole is head of office, Singapore, at Fifty-Five.

This story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific.

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