An Inconvenient Truth? AdTech’s Plans for Consumer Privacy

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For years adtech giants like Google and Apple have been announcing their intentions to implement major changes in the name of consumer privacy. Some skeptics question how likely these changes are to benefit consumers in the long run — and whether they’re actually designed to serve adtech’s own interests. After all, information is power, and keeping data closer to the chest could result in higher ad revenue.

There’s no doubt data privacy should be at the forefront of all digital marketing decisions, but a closer look at the finer details proves new is not always better. One of the most serious criticisms of Google’s plan is that it groups consumers together based on individual activity. Since it consolidates browser activity, the idea is that no one individual can be unfairly targeted.

The problem comes into play, however, when the behaviors of an individual start to affect the larger group. This approach also calls into question the accuracy (and ironically, privacy) of targeting individuals by their inclusion in groups that they have no part in deciding to join. It’s also unclear at this point what Google intends to do with “cohort IDs” and whether they’ll be securely protected.

Use What You Have: First-Party Data
To be clear, balancing consumer privacy with digital advertising is a complicated endeavor and attempts to do so should be encouraged. When data is managed by knowledgeable marketers, it can greatly improve customer experience and poses little risk to consumer privacy.

The death of the cookie has prompted more than 60% of marketers to rely on first-party data to target new and existing customers. To manage the transition, they’ve developed strong first-party data strategies — only to realize it’s an incomplete view of the consumer.

Innovative marketers are now turning to organizations that focus on behavior and insights to enrich and organize their first-party assets. The process of enhancing first-party data allows marketers to connect data points like name, contact info, or location, with complex consumer behavior.

Understand the Benefits of Behavioral Data
Behavioral data completes the view of the customer by filling in their journey from beginning to end—how they arrived at certain pages or products, and how they interact with your brand. It helps identify trends that indicate individuals who are most likely to complete a purchase.

Enhancing a company’s owned first-party data enables marketers to form better segments of their existing audiences and deliver personalized messaging to individual customers. It helps them make data-driven decisions based on individual consumer actions. A Forrester study suggests that marketers who use these insights improve retention rates, increase customer engagement, and consistently close new business. The investment can also result in nearly 200% return.

Unexpected Allies: Compliance & Customer Experience
Both adtech changes and new privacy regulations ultimately point to the increasing uneasiness among consumers — and lawmakers — about the use of customers’ private data. When attribution based on third-party cookies will no longer be possible, enhancing first-party data will provide a compliant and exceptional customer experience.

Consumer activity can be gathered securely and in compliance with privacy regulation without the use of personally identifiable information (PII) or traditional browser cookies. Data hashing, for example, extracts insights by assigning it a value from a one-way cryptographic algorithm. This algorithm keeps the security of consumer information and data intact, keeping any personal information invisible and blocked per its hash code.

The elimination of cookies is forcing brands to become more aware of consumer needs, offer something for the benefit of transacting with them, and, most importantly, honor their privacy. Enhancing your first-party data with behavioral insights is the single best way to deliver the sort of personalized, compliant experiences that consumers expect and appreciate.

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