Are B2B Brands Ready for a Privacy-First World?

Business marketers need to adapt to new regulations and the demise of third-party cookies, but a new study says they're not

By Chuck Kapelke

Chris Gash/

Tyson Foodservice has found a new way to serve hospitals, K-12 schools, and other B2B customers. Using software called Jebbit, Tyson's marketing team creates quizzes that are designed to be fun and engaging and at the same time collect first-party data about buyers' interests and preferences. The quizzes — around topics like "What is your lunch hero superpower?" — help reveal when a customer might be in the market for pizza-related products, for example, in which case the Tyson team follows up by sending samples of pepperoni. "Jebbit has been a great way for us to capture first-party data in a way that is intuitive and unique for a user," says Alex Tummons, senior manager of digital customer experience at Tyson Foods, an ANA member company. "There's more of a value-add for our operators. We're able to collect what they're interested in so we can personalize content and provide valuable resources, rather than just retargeting ads that hit them on every site they visit."

Tyson's quizzes help to illustrate how marketers are adapting to dramatic changes in the online-privacy landscape, as regulatory and industry forces are changing how companies leverage consumer data for marketing purposes. Regulations like Europe's GDPR and California's CCPA limit how data is collected and stored, while new laws are in the works.

Meanwhile, Apple and Google are phasing out third-party cookies, limiting marketers' ability to track consumers as they traverse the web.

The writing is on the wall, but most companies aren't ready for a privacy-first world. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's "IAB State of Data Initiative 2022," 77 percent of respondents claim to be prepared for the loss of cookies and identifiers, but most are not taking the necessary steps to adapt their data approaches and operations.

The study, based on the responses from 204 industry leaders across brands, agencies, publishers, advertising technology, and data companies, also found that 69 percent of business professionals are not increasing their use of artificial intelligence, 66 percent are not adjusting their measurement strategies, and 59 percent are not increasing their investment in first-party data.

"Most B2B companies don't have a lot of first-party data, and marketers are finding it difficult to extend their reach," says Angelina Eng, VP of measurement and attribution-programmatic and Data Center at the IAB. "Marketers and publishers need to think more about their strategy and data infrastructure and make sure there is consent for using that data."

Indeed, the pending "cookiepocalypse" may be a blessing in disguise. "Relying on first-party data is key in the privacy-first future," says David Temkin, director of product management, ads privacy, and user trust at ANA member Google. "It allows marketers to better connect with their audiences by delivering more meaningful experiences in a privacy-safe way."

Build an Infrastructure

Adapting to privacy-first marketing starts with taking stock of existing data tools and what may be lacking. "Lawmakers are trying to figure out what the balance is in terms of what data is collected by companies, and what people get back from that," says Hayley Tsukayama, legislative activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "It's a good idea for companies to have the same conversation. Get a handle on what information you have and what you collect, and how you could do similar marketing with less granular data."

Companies need to put in place an infrastructure that can manage data. "Invest in the people and the tools to drive quality data as the catalyst to drive better engagement with your prospect," says Julian Archer, VP and principal analyst at Forrester. "You need to think about, who are the personas? What relationship do they have with each other? Is this a new opportunity, or a retention opportunity? Is it a cross-sell, or an upsell? You need to understand the vital importance of data governance."

Social media networks are scrambling to offer privacy-friendly tools to help businesses prepare for a cookieless world. LinkedIn, for example, has rolled out Group Identity for B2B, which leverages the platform's first-party data to create segments based on professional attributes such as job role, company, and seniority.

"There is a misconception that personalization and privacy are at odds," says Abhishek Shrivastava, senior director of product at ANA member LinkedIn. "We believe they can coexist and are building solutions rooted in privacy principles to achieve this marriage, while constantly gathering feedback from our members on the topic."

Google offers Topics API, a way to serve interest-based ads on websites without involving external servers. Consumers can opt in and have control over the topic areas advertisers see, and marketers can adjust measurement based on whether users have given permission.

"Successful marketers will make their use of customer information obvious by delivering the benefits directly to customers and actively building customer trust," Temkin says. "They'll also focus on keeping that information safe and overcommunicating with customers how, exactly, their information is being handled. And they will invest in partnerships that offer privacy-respecting ways to share data — and hold partners to the same privacy standards."

More Give and Take

With customers less inclined to share their personal data, B2B organizations need to focus on delivering the kind of content that will both get people in the door and hold long-term appeal.

"B2B marketers have to think about what they can offer in the journey that will inspire customers to opt in to more direct forms of contact," says Andrew Frank, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner for Marketing Leaders. "They can't just passively track the activities of prospects through their funnel. It's more of a give-and-take."

It's also important to let customers know how their data is collected. "Giving people a persistent sense of transparency and control is key to gaining trust," Frank says, adding that companies' privacy practices are becoming another measure of corporate responsibility. "You have to project a commitment to privacy and follow that through. When someone says, 'Please stop marketing to me,' you do that."



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shivangni kalar

March 23, 2022 10:12am ET