How marketers can overcome data privacy challenges as Google and Apple increase consumer protection

A gate with a sign that reads 'private'.

Tim Glomb is VP of content and data at Cheetah Digital.

Consumers care about data privacy. In 2021, they know more about how their data is collected, stored, and shared, and they want more control. This presents a unique set of challenges for marketers because data collection has become so closely tied to the modern consumer experience. Would we have witnessed the same exponential growth in e-commerce without personalised advertisements and targeted promotions? Likely not, because consumers and marketers alike have become dependent on personalisation to enhance the modern shopping experience.

Apple recently changed how it will handle consumer data by increasing privacy and protections around users’ information. With such a global super-power joining the trend toward increased data privacy, marketers need to keep these advances in mind as they strategise future efforts. An increase of regulations around data will inevitably limit the ways marketers can pull information about consumers, and this will change how we craft marketing initiatives.

These challenges can only be overcome if marketers focus on the unique and personal values of the consumer and make efforts to build the company’s rapport with buyers. In many ways, these challenges are beneficial for the marketing industry because they will encourage innovation and adaptation. These are the three initial steps marketers need to take in order to find and reach customers in the age of data protection.

Get to know customers on a deeper level

The cookie is on the way out, and no, I don’t mean the dessert. Third-party data collection— “cookies” to most— lost their allure because consumers are skeptical and privacy laws are increasing. This is good for marketing, though, because it will make the industry less lazy. We have long relied heavily on background data collection that yields minimally helpful results. With changing data regulations, we will have to get to know our customers differently and at a deeper level. This will transform the marketing world.

Brands and marketers must look beyond typical third-party data, like general demographics or the time users spend on a page, and understand the specific interests and objectives of their customers. The next generation of marketing will run on an intentional brand-to-consumer relationship where collaboration—likely in the form of sharing data and incentives between parties—will drive purchasing power. Consumers want relationships with the brands they prefer, but many companies don’t focus on building this type of loyalty. If marketers strategise and embrace these changes in data privacy, they can cultivate better customer relationships and brand loyalty. 

Give power back to consumers through personalisation 

At the same time that customers want privacy from looming corporations and advertisers, they also want products and offers that suit their individual needs. This juxtaposition, coupled with changing privacy laws, requires marketers to understand their customers beyond their clicking and scrolling habits. A study from Accenture found that 91% of consumers want to purchase products from brands that offer some degree of personalisation. Without third-party data, it will be more difficult for marketers to reach customers than ever before, but consumers will still expect the same degree of targeted recommendations, discounts or promotions.

Personalisation is the solution. At Cheetah Digital, we’ve helped develop personalisation strategies for brands that help put the purchasing power back into the consumers’ hands. With increased personalisation, they will ultimately have more control over which marketing initiatives they do or don’t see based upon how they interact with a brand. Marketers will have to pursue other methods for understanding their customers, like first-party or zero-party data collection. These methods will yield more targeted insights than any third-party data set could offer, but they will require more initiative on the part of marketers.

Use data intelligently and employ technology

Marketers can overcome data privacy challenges if they use data intelligently. As consumer data becomes more difficult to obtain, and marketing technology more expensive to use, marketers must utilise tools to understand and reach their customers. They will need technology that crosses multiple channels, gathers information in real-time, enhances the consumer experience, and provides accurate data reports. More specific data (gathered through first- or zero-party strategies) will require a more complex analysis. 

Personalisation will be the foundation of intelligent data usage. Segmentation will be exchanged for direct communication with the consumer, whether that’s through an AI-based platform or straightforward quizzes surveys. Consumers have realised that their data is one of their greatest assets in the modern world, and they want to know that it will be used responsibly. 

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