The Shift Towards Privacy-First Marketing

Privacy-First Marketing

For years, marketers have relied on valuable user data to guide their efforts.

From third-party cookies and device IDs to categorical ad targeting capabilities, the digital landscape enabled a new form of personalized advertising. While in many ways this helped consumers find the perfect good or service, it has also led to mass concern, specifically for users who are worried about the way their data is being collected, stored, and used.

Now more than ever, it is crucial to adopt and advocate for a privacy-first approach to digital marketing. The future of marketing is customer centric, and having respect for your customers privacy is a requirement for success in the constantly evolving digital sphere. 

So, what is privacy-first marketing?​

When we say “privacy-first marketing”, we’re talking about limiting the use of second and third-party data collection, in favour of collecting data only with the consent of your audience (first-party data collection). And, using whatever data you collect responsibly, by serving ads without revealing information that can be used to identify individuals (Think With Google).

With third-party cookies on their way out, and data-tracking opt-in notifications on their way in, the shift towards a privacy-first approach to marketing online is moving faster each and every day. 

What’s Happened So Far?

Most notably, Apple recently made changes to data privacy settings in their latest IOS 14.5 release. These updates have been causing havoc for Facebook and its advertisers alike, as users now have a say in whether apps (like Facebook & Instagram) can track their data. Specifically, when users open smartphone apps, they now receive an opt-in notification, asking “Allow “App Name” to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” 

Without the ability to track user data, advertisers must find other ways to reach their desired audiences and measure campaign performance.

Early reports suggest that only 11.5% of iPhone users worldwide have opted in to app tracking after updating their phones to Apple’s new iOS 14.5. 

As a result, marketers have had to adjust reporting expectations and goals in a few different ways.

  1. Delayed reporting: Real-time reporting is no longer supported, and data may be delayed up to 3 days.
  2. Changes to account attribution window settings: 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through attribution windows are no longer supported for active campaigns. The default for all new or active ad campaigns will be set at a 7-day click attribution window.

Significance: Before, Facebook ads would get credited if a user interacted with the ad up to 28 days prior to converting. Now, that window has shrunk to 7 days, artificially decreasing the average ROAS (because the window of assigning credit to action taken as a direct or indirect result of ads, is smaller).

Future expectations…

According to Tealium, 75% of consumers believe most companies handle their sensitive information irresponsibly, with 51% of consumers regularly cleaning their cookies, and 44% of consumers opting out of cookies altogether. 

These striking statistics have sparked changes in the way browsers and businesses will forever collect data from user behaviour online:

Currently, use cases for measuring and reaching users with third-party cookies are limited and will continue to decrease over time. Ad blockers marked the onset of the death/downfall of cookies, and by 2022, Google will be officially removing support for third-party cookies on Chrome browsers. 

Other major corporations are taking greater strides towards a privacy-first future, such as Apple, who, after already integrating the previously mentioned iOS 14.5 tracking opt-in notification, recently announced another privacy-oriented feature – Mail Privacy Protection. This prevents email senders (including marketers) from knowing when a user opens an email in the Mail app. It also conceals users’ IP addresses, so they can’t be linked to other online behaviour.

Additionally, governing bodies globally are changing laws and regulations that will continue to impact how data can be collected and used, while heightened browser controls are impacting traditional data collection by offering users the ability to block or deactivate data collectors like cookies and device IDs.

How will this impact my online marketing efforts?

If you asked us 5 years ago what the digital marketing landscape would have looked like today, we probably would have had a very different answer for you. Needless to say, our environment has changed drastically, and it’s our job to not only keep up but stay ahead of the curve. 

From an advertising perspective, our ability to target customers, prospects, and lookalikes is significantly diminished, as is performance data to drive optimizations. And as we shift further away from second and third-party data collection, the measurement of digital platform activity and the marketing placements that drive traffic will also suffer significant gaps. Lastly, without cookies, the ability to recognize, remember, and recommend is dramatically decreased. 

The Bottom Line

Collecting actionable first-party data at each step of the value chain will help experts derive some meaningful insight from their marketing efforts. Testing new modes of marketing through diversification to other platforms and ad exchanges outside of Facebook & Google can also help marketers reach their desired audiences, and gather insightful information from their efforts. 

Data-driven marketers, advertisers and data scientists are all working hard on varied solutions to the problem, agencies and their clients need to focus on the things they can currently control – whether it is first-party data collection, or alternative platforms and solutions. 

To learn more about how our team is adapting to these privacy-oriented industry changes, join our mailing list below, or scroll down to book a no-charge, full and thorough consultation with our team.

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