3 ways to balance data privacy and trust

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Google’s U-turn on cookieless targeting has been a game-changer for advertisers and marketers, who have been forced to take a step towards data privacy and first-party data. Meanwhile, Apple’s new data privacy laws hit Facebook with a $10 billion loss in ad sales.

In today’s turbulent marketplace, a cookieless reality is no longer a future problem; it’s happening now, and the industry was expected to act yesterday.

Brands, governing bodies and consumers continue to raise concerns about online tracking and data protection, but it remains to be seen whether they will embrace Google Topics or seek their own first-party data.

More than 50% of US consumers say they are uncomfortable with online behavior tracking and personal data capture by websites, according to a recent survey by MediaMath. At the same time, 84% of consumers say they are more likely to trust brands that prioritize the use of personal information with a privacy-respecting approach.

So where do we go from here?

It’s obvious that people are ready for brands and marketers to take the leap to data-driven, privacy-respecting advertising that puts consumer preferences at the beginning, middle, and end of the customer journey. According to the MediaMath survey, over 70% of consumers are willing to share their email addresses, preferences, interests, and demographic information directly with brands if it improves their online shopping experience.

Introducing privacy-aware targeting can not only help brands optimize data to create more personalized experiences and seamless delivery, but also pave the way for more trusting brand relationships with consumers.

Here are three tactics to help us get there.

1. Increase collaboration with the right partners

It’s not enough to sit back and wait for the best technology innovators to lead the way in digital transformation. Brands and marketers looking to improve the accuracy, transparency and effectiveness of their digital advertising for a more people-centric and privacy-respecting approach should favor partnerships with agencies that provide them with the platforms to make these changes.

By developing strategic collaborative networks, businesses will be able to leapfrog legacy systems and pivot to greater transparency and accessibility. They can use shared resources to retarget customers more thoughtfully, balancing customer anonymity with greater addressability.

In the cookieless open web, these businesses will feel comfortable knowing they have the support they need to revitalize their advertising and provide a frictionless journey for their customers.

2. Lead with consent, always

A future without cookies does not mean that consumer data will no longer be targeted or used. Despite layers of privacy and anonymity, a brand’s connection to its customers means their data will be accessible. For the customer, however, there is a silver lining: consent.

Rather than forcing customers to “accept cookies” or leave a page without further information, brands will need to provide information to ensure consumers understand how their data may be used in accordance with applicable law. Of course, in a world where privacy comes first, disclosures will go beyond legal interests and focus more on building relationships with customers.

In the new world, customers are king and they are empowered enough to decide whether or not they should stay with a business. In such cases, the company’s honesty will help redefine the customer-company relationship based on transparency and trust.

Additionally, consent-based identity solutions will help brands improve and increase the retargeting of audiences on previously non-addressable sites for a better return on ad spend.

3. Improve user experience

In the age of consent, customer experience is as important as trust. Users don’t often read data usage banners because of their length and unnecessary complexity. In a virtual world of endless pop-up screens and flashing ads, it’s much easier to click and agree to the terms to get to the page you want.

In the process, however, customers usually end up accepting all cookies without knowing who or what they are granting permissions to. So many requirements to overcome to access day-to-day data means that the customer will naturally seek the fastest route.

Rather than requiring users to manage individual cookies on each page they access, brands should simplify the consent process with more user-friendly, brief, and accessible website banners. Banners can use more visual elements, such as graphics, images, and videos, to help the disclosure process without annoying the customer.

When you improve the user experience around consent, consumers will be more aware of what they are signing and thus will feel more trust in brands, and advertisers will be able to reach more users seamlessly. And to get there, we go back to the first point: industry collaboration and partnership for greater privacy and better user experience.

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Confidentiality should not be an obstacle for advertisers. In many ways, it’s an opportunity, opening the doors to a new way to balance trusted relationships with customers while increasing addressability through compliant, consensus-based targeting. In a world without cookies, this requires greater collaboration and more active efforts to protect the consumer.

When managed properly, privacy can create a new path to a smoother journey from consumer to advertiser, in the user experience and overall relationship. And it’s not just an option: if advertisers hope to retain a place in a consumer’s heart and mind, it’s a necessity.

More resources on consumer trust and data privacy

The customer data conundrum: how CX leaders can optimize both privacy and personalization

Transparency and trust: the key links between data regulation and customer experience

Trust and Privacy: Reaching Today’s Connected Customers [Infographic]

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