As we witness the demise of third-party cookies, passage of new laws regulating data privacy, and an ever-evolving value exchange between brands and consumers, the use of personal data is clearly at a critical juncture. This isn’t hyperbole – it’s a call to action.
More than half of consumers believe it’s appropriate to use personal data for marketing if they grant permission. Yet, when asked if they believe their data is used responsibly, over 66% say it isn’t, or don’t know. These metrics point to a direct and positive correlation between consumer trust and comfort with marketers using their data.
As members of an industry dependent on the use of consumer data, marketers, and publishers should focus on this issue and act accordingly. This isn’t about good PR and messaging—it’s about a shift towards privacy-centered growth.
Cutting-edge infrastructure may provide marketers and publishers with alternative solutions to increasingly unavailable identifiers. But infrastructure can’t replace consumer trust. That's why modern marketing programs can adopt a privacy-centered-growth strategy to remain compliant and effective, while creating a sustained value exchange with consumers.
This new marketing ethos centers on three potential core components: cutting-edge infrastructure, data relationship management, and anonymous identifiers. Let’s explore each of them.
Modern ad tech infrastructure has evolved significantly over the past five years. Not long ago, brands were busy uploading spreadsheets to advertising platforms in order to locate, target and enrich first-party data sets. These tactics have largely been replaced by data “clean rooms” as the standard way to connect first-party data to third-party platforms.
While these clean rooms provide a safe way to share data by minimizing the threat of leakage, they don’t guarantee consumer confidence—especially if their data ends up in the hands of someone they never agreed to share it with. So as marketers and publishers set up next generation clean rooms, they should ask themselves, “Will my customers’ data be used in the spirit in which it was granted?”
Data Relationship Management (DRM)
Marketers and publishers find themselves at a crossroads. Consumers are divided on the degree to which they trust corporations with their data, and companies that adopt a data relationship management (DRM) program will emerge victorious.
DRM programs require a straightforward invitation asking consumers to share their data; an ongoing dialog regarding data use; a robust security center with rich content reinforcing consumer confidence; and a clear and concise value proposition outlining consumer benefits.
Marketers and publishers should begin to imagine a world without personally identifiable information (PII). This exercise forces practitioners to think creatively about alternative tactics to reach consumers in a safe, transparent, and personalized fashion. It also underscores the third component of privacy-centered growth: anonymous identifiers.
Contextual signals and clickstream analysis have long been workhorses of the digital marketing industry. When used in conjunction with artificial intelligence and machine learning, these signals can provide outputs at least as effective as PII.
A simple way to begin is to run an A/B test where variant A is built from deterministic data and variant B from contextual data. In all likelihood, variant A will perform best. But in the process of running the test, key factors such as similarities and differences in performance should signify which factors determine subsequent tests. If you’re running an agile operating model, your contextual tests should begin to resemble your deterministic audience tests over time.
The Way Forward
Marketers have a unique opportunity to drive privacy-centered growth and create sustainable engagement with their customers. Like most successful strategies, it is best applied as a mix of consistently tested and scrutinized tactics. And today’s winning approach may come up short tomorrow, so an agile operating model with test-and-learn processes will be key to enabling growth. Finally, never forget a tried-and-true tenet that consistently pays dividends: respect your customers and use their data in an ethical, safe, and trustworthy manner.