How data privacy laws should affect your marketing plan

As much as the recent media attention and expanding legislation may imply otherwise, data privacy is not a new issue. Sweden passed their first national privacy law all the way back in 1973. And data privacy has been a repeated global discussion since the birth of ecommerce. But since then, data breaches have accumulated. Consumers have grown more aware how much of their lives is trackable. So it understandable why, in the last couple years, data privacy has risen to the forefront of our attention in new ways. Even in 2018, 83% of internet users reported concerns about their privacy online.  

Since the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA)—a stricter version of 2018’s CCPA—passed in 2020, more states have considered following California's lead. Washington, Florida and New York are among those that have discussed similar legislation. Meanwhile, growing speculation over the possibility of a federal data privacy law has sent businesses rushing to reexamine their data practices. Advertising, with its glut of third-party data, has received some of the closest scrutiny. 

 

Digital advertising’s targeting capability has long been one of its greatest advantages. The personalization this allows was a game-changer for countless businesses. So valuable was this information that an entire industry developed around tracking consumer habits online. But new laws demand businesses receive consumer consent before processing their data. They also govern the sharing or sale of that information. 

 

As a result, we’re living through the last days of the third-party cookie. Such a statement is only further confirmed by Chrome’s announcement that they’ll follow Safari and Firefox in phasing out third-party cookies by 2022. 

 

For most, this means relying on first-party data to find and target customers. This will be a shift for many businesses. In fact, more than ¾ of retail marketers say they currently rely on third-party cookies to connect with online customers. This change will require processes and technology to collect your own customer data. And it means learning to navigate an increasingly consolidated tech industry. The amount of first-party data held by major players like Facebook and Google has made them incredibly powerful.  

 

Even as the full implications of the growing focus on data privacy remain unseen, the dangers of leaning too heavily on any single marketing channel become clearer. An advertiser reliant on third-party data to target customers on digital channels may experience a decrease in their online effectiveness while they perfect a new approach. And if digital is that advertiser’s primary or only marketing channel, the entire business will suffer in the downtime. Therefore, while re-examining marketing strategies in light of the recent legislation, advertisers should round out their playbooks with traditional channels.  

 

The benefits of a diversified marketing strategy—one reliant on both digital and traditional channels—go beyond the synergies complementary mediums create, although those effects are undeniable. For example, linear TV supports digital’s typically bottom-of-the-funnel approach with broad reach and high visibility. But it also gives you leverage when working with tech companies because your entire marketing strategy isn’t reliant on their business. And most importantly, TV and other traditional channels can serve as a marketing backbone while establishing stronger partnerships or testing new approaches to digital channels that rightly place consumer privacy first. Plus, with TV’s broad reach, you’ll be sure to connect with key audiences regardless of changing regulations. 

 

Preparing for whatever’s next in the world of data privacy can be an opportunity. It’s time to build your marketing to weather storms of all kinds. The ad industry certainly knows how to change. So, if nothing else, the latest laws on data privacy remind businesses to be ready for anything. A diversified marketing strategy can at least provide some peace of mind.