The internet underpins almost everything we do – from work, education and travel to entertainment, news, social connections and the music we listen to. The breadth of its reach is undisputed: according to reports from Hootsuite, 4.66 billion people around the world were internet users in January 2021 . And the past 25 years have seen the way online information is delivered evolve from generic, catch-all content, to a tailored, customised experience for each person.
As people spend more time online, they are understandably questioning how their data is being used, and how it drives the personalised experiences they see. In answer to these important questions, significant data-protection regulations have been put in place to govern how online companies should process personal information and what checks and balances are in place to ensure the protection of people’s data. At the same time, Google is expected to phase out cookies by 2023.
Unsurprisingly, the answers from tech platforms and governments are having an impact on the ability of marketers to reach people with personalised ads.
With these large changes happening, it’s important to take a step back and ask ourselves: how do we want data to flow between people and businesses on the internet? We are starting to see two distinct schools of thought emerge. The first is the movement towards a more fee-based model. And the second is continuing to have ad-supported content and services that require data to function. A fee based model will exclude millions of people who cannot afford to pay for services, whereas an ad-supported model will enable a free internet, accessible to all. It will also enable businesses of all sizes to start and grow, no matter how small their advertising budget is.
The power of personalised ads
As consumers, we have the best possible experience when the internet is personalised for us, with each use of a website or app tailored to our particular interests. If we’re a football fan, we’ll want a sports site to prioritise news about our team. If we like to shop for eco-conscious fashion online, we like to see the latest from our favorite businesses in our feed.
When people’s data about their interests and activity is shared with a business, that allows the business to personalise what they show people. And when people’s actions are explicit and clear, like the football fan understanding that the sports site knows he watched a game last night, they find personalised recommendations delightful.
The same goes for advertising online. When people see ads that are directly related to their interests, they value them. A recent study showed that 82% of consumers are willing to share their personal data to receive personalised products, recommendations, discounts, or services .
Reshaping the future of the digital ad ecosystem
People want to understand how personalised ads work, and have a say in what we see. Meta aims to enable such personalised experiences while respecting people's choices on how their data is used. To that end, the company is investing in the evolution of its technology around three principles:
Transparency: helping people understand how their data is being used, and how it benefits them.
Choice and consent: ensuring that people are able to continue to make informed data choices to help guide the ads they see on Facebook.
Data minimisation and anonymisation: reducing the amount of personal information processed while still delivering relevant experiences to people.
For brands to maintain and continue to grow performance as the ad ecosystem evolves, they will need to make a meaningful investment in how they collect, use and share their customers’ data.
3 tips to drive data-driven marketing
Help people understand how your business uses their data, and how you keep it safe. Avoid legal jargon, and always use easy-to-understand data and communications policies.
Let your customers choose
Invite and enable customers to make choices that define how personalized their experiences will be across your digital platforms.
Stay up to date with data-privacy regulations
Stay informed about data privacy regulations, evaluate how they may impact your business and take proper and timely action.
As marketers navigate their way through the new challenges that arise from the reshaping of data flows between people and businesses across the internet, Meta has one simple message for them: we have your back.
 Digital 2021 reports series – published in partnership between We Are Social and Hootsuite.
 Yotpo Consumer Experience Survey, May 2021.