Privacy rules and a cookie purge will transform online marketing


Consumer concerns about privacy have increased over the years. The widespread use of user data for behavior manipulation, including for elections, has raised issues around the world among businesses, governments and citizens in general. Consumers are increasingly aware of how their data is being used. A recent update to WhatsApp’s privacy policy, allowing the service to share user data with its parent Facebook, has been all the rage. Together, these issues have led governments to enact privacy laws around the world. These laws have mandated companies to collect data in a manner that meets standards and protects consumers’ privacy rights.

In India, the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) is in its final stages of adoption by Parliament. While information technology laws have been around since the early 2000s, they focused on cybercrime and activities such as hacking, spamming, and offensive personal messaging.

Privacy laws such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and India’s PDPB have changed two things: 1) they recognize that devices such as smartphones are an integral part of the identity of a person and, therefore, any information that can be used to profile an individual is subject to law; and 2) these laws articulate what consent is – that it must be free, informed, specific, clear and capable of being withdrawn.

This changing landscape around privacy is what has forced tech giants Google and Apple to toughen their stance on privacy. Last year, Google announced the blocking of third-party cookies from January 2022. As that deadline approaches, Google has signaled that it will not allow any form of alternative identifiers in its suite of products.

Apple had taken an aggressive privacy stance even earlier and increased the focus on trust. With the release of iOS 14, it made mandatory “nutritional labeling” on privacy on its App Store and made consumer consent for tracking mandatory.

These Big Tech companies are also increasingly subject to increased regulation by governments, given their ability to create monopoly or oligopolistic markets and control the playing field. Recent rules on information technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Code of Ethics for Digital Media) in India and the News Media Trading Code in Australia are some examples of antitrust laws emerging around the world.

The faster adoption of digital media driven by the pandemic means that business processes need to be digitized and seamlessly delivered as customer experiences on the internet. The responsibility of providing these experiences requires collaboration between experts in marketing, technology, design, cybersecurity, and law.

The emergence of privacy laws is forcing companies to collect and use data in a manner that is both ethical and compliant. So, when designing and delivering customer experiences, business leaders need to be on top of data protection and consent management, while ensuring that processes are in place for ethical and sensitive use. Datas.

A data breach has multiple costs and involves a variety of risks, including financial risk, legal risk, compliance risk, and most important of all, reputational risk. Privacy is militarized and any laxity on the part of a business could have serious consequences. Any inadvertent data breach results in loss of reputation and the possibility of legal action.

On the positive side, the changing privacy landscape offers brands and advertisers an opportunity to educate and strengthen their relationship with customers and get to know them better. Businesses will need to invest in leveraging their own customer data across platforms, as every business now needs to behave like a technology company.

Therefore, customer relationship management (CRM) modules will be generalized and fully integrated into marketing efforts. Collecting market research and aggregated anonymized data is also essential to enrich this first-party data. These strategies will help businesses bridge the gap between consumer information and marketing implementation, which will soon be limited by the death of third-party cookies.

The end of browser-based third-party cookies also means that the planning, targeting, optimization and measurement of campaigns are affected. This move means the end of re-targeting and similar marketing as it is practiced today. Purchasing based on cost per impression will change to purchasing based on cost per click / engagement. Walled gardens such as Google will only provide attribution within their posting domain. Companies need to develop mechanisms to measure their marketing campaigns so that they can determine omni-channel effectiveness.

With less than eight months to purge third-party cookies and a rapidly changing regulatory framework, businesses should be prepared to implement privacy by design into their marketing efforts. Special attention to first party data and contextual advertising is imminent. Time is running out and many companies have yet to realize this reality.

Ravi Ganesh and Lloyd Mathias are, respectively, a data and analytics expert and founder of TMber Data and an investor and business strategist and former marketer at PepsiCo, Motorola and HP

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