U.S. Marketers Missing Ad, Branding Benefits Of Privacy Regulations

The U.S. market is vastly different from the European market when it comes to implementing privacy strategies, according to data in a recent study from MMA Global and AppsFlyer.

In Europe there are very distinct privacy ownership titles for employees, whereas in the U.S. there are not.

In Europe these titles were represented in a variety of sectors such as marketing, legal, or information technology. There were a vast majority of respondents in the U.S. who said marketing held the responsibility and ownership for privacy within the company.

Companies have moved in a direction to protect consumer data, but marketers have not embraced legal structures in worldwide markets to create and market brands. 

The legal structure in the European market does not make this possible, says Emilie Kuijt, data protection officer at AppsFlyer. “This heavy marketing ownership causes an inherent struggle as a necessary evil, rather than using it to create and marketing the brand,” she said, adding that privacy could actually create growth.



It has become increasingly important to protect the data that consumers have entrusted in the coffers of brands.

About 76% of survey participants showed there is not yet a complete grasp of how privacy strategies can be used to the benefit of the company. This is also reflected in the different tiers of ownership of privacy within the organization.

The U.S. and Europe look at privacy in completely different ways. In many areas throughout Europe, privacy is related to human rights, Kuijit says, and the entire spectrum of human rights was created in the aftermath of World War II -- when privacy as a right was born in the EU as well. In the U.S., the birth of privacy was based on a consumer’s perspective in terms of their rights and what companies could and could not do.

Last year, MMA Global and AppsFlyer created this framework to check the pulse of the industry in terms of privacy. The two companies set out to determine how much marketers actually understood about privacy from a cultural standpoint, but also how much they understand technologies including encryption, and privacy-preserving data sets. They wanted to know whether marketers understood and adopted the technology correctly.

During the second half of last year, the MMA Global reached out to 150 senior-level marketers to attain an understanding of where privacy maturity stood -- asking them about the privacy technology being used, who owns privacy within the organization and more.

Vassilis Bakopoulos, senior vice president and head of industry research at MMA Global, says “the findings show a good new, not so good news story,” and that the answers provided made the strategies feel more like “privacy 1.0.” He said companies still have a long way to go to understand how to use privacy to their advantage.

“Companies are checking the box in a number of important things, but it feels they are missing the bigger opportunity in how they use privacy more strategically.”

Depending on who owns data privacy within the company -- such as the CMO or IT -- the survey data shows different potential outcomes and practices across the company.

The survey shows gaps and areas that are lacking. There is a lot of discussion within the industry about data, privacy, and privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs). On the other hand, the companies are still trying to catch up. The data shows consent controls still lack for customers.

PETs are increasingly becoming a greater area of focus, although more urgency is needed. Some 59% cite this as one of the most important priorities, while 19% cite PETs as one of the areas the company is working on, 11% said it is a top priority, and 1% say they were not planning to focus on it to a significant degree.

The survey data found that a company’s privacy standing typically links to its underlying data assets, limitations and goals. A classic privacy ownership is typical for companies with significant volumes of data with corresponding values, according to the findings. Owning the privacy technology is more often linked to organizations where there is a good level of value extraction from data, as well as a strong focus on quality. 

When marketers own the technology, the strategy is more often linked to companies that have less access to data but do more experimentation with a variety of data signals.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a new piece of EU legislation designed to ensure fair and open digital markets through platform regulations.

The legislation takes effect in March 2024. It requires U.S. companies to work with consent management technology.

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