The Rise of User Privacy

The era of user privacy is here. Over 72% of people feel that ‘almost everything’ they do online is now being tracked. Considering the numerous data-leak scandals (Cambridge Analytica anyone?), hacking of data-driven products (like Microsoft’s accidentally racist chatbot) and an already steady clampdown on using digital fingerprinting –  it’s clear users are apprehensive around what data is being collected on them, how it’s being processed and what the benefit to them of that usage is. 

These pressures have in turn led to both large scale legislative changes in the public sector (through GDPR (Europe), CCPA (California), LGPD (Brazil)) and more recently in the private sector through Apple’s release of iOS 14 (via SKA-Adnetwork), Google’s Privacy Sandbox or Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection rollout.

Matt Russell, Senior Programmatic manager at VERB, discusses what the future of privacy means for luxury brands and how you should prepare to find the right target audiences in the new post cookie world. 

What’s the context?

Whichever part of the digital ecosystem we’re referring to, the key message rings true; end-user data collection has been overly intrusive. As a result, users do not understand how their data is being collected, used and segmented to enhance marketing efforts. 

This has largely involved tracking users, based on their browsing habits, across multiple domains/apps, and packaging them up as an audience, to sell to marketers. 

Some steps have been taken to improve the users access to their data (through GDPR etc.), meaning data can be stored, owned & deleted for each individual; but targeting has still been dependent on identifiers of that user taken from their browsing habits. 

A key component behind GDPR (according to the ICO) was to ensure businesses could “identify the minimum amount of personal data you need to fulfil your purpose”. With Google, Facebook and Apple all with unrivalled volumes of data on the population, this move further reinforces using their existing data sets, ensuring marketers rely less on packaged up audience profiles, and more on automation within the wall gardens created by the tech giants.

What does that mean in practice? 

The expectancy is that as users are reminded on an app-by-app basis about data being tracked, and as cookies (not collected on a first-party basis) are increasingly phased out, the safe bet is that ‘addressable audiences’ (i.e. users with an available user ID/IDFA for targeted ads), may decrease in size.

In its place, we will see an increased reliance on automation – and the algorithms across the key ad platforms (Paid Search, Social & Programmatic); finding the users based on the predictive algorithms. This will also continue the growth in the need for advertisers to invest in first party data enrichment products like Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) – to better activate that first party data further. This will be the premise of retargeting activity, alongside using lookalike audiences to create digitally similar profiles. 

We will also see the resurgence of contextual targeting as a means of finding new users, targeting users not by a history of their browsing habits, and more on the content they are reading, in that moment. 

Get in touch with an expert at VERB to talk more about data and analytics. We are here to help and want to hear from you. Following on from this post, next week we’ll be discussing how brands should prepare for this change as an advertiser.

Watch this space!