Marketing in the Era of Privacy, Regulation, and Disappearing Cookies

March 2, 2020

Marketers can still collect consumer-level data in compliance with the new California Consumer Privacy Act and General Data Protect Regulation rules by offering value to customers in exchange for their information and aggregating it in ways that tell marketers how different markets respond to different media. By identifying similarities in the way different demographics respond to advertisements, companies can measure their marketing performance and build consumer profiles without revealing the identities of individual customers.

Marketers today are reliant on consumer data to deliver personalized experiences that convert and retain customers. Collecting customer data enables businesses to make more sense of their customers, providing marketers with valuable insights on how they interact with different touchpoints. Once upon a time digital channels provided marketers with a goldmine of detailed, hyper-personalized consumer data that could be harnessed to drive growth. In the era of privacy and security, however, marketers face new challenges complying with new regulations designed to protect consumer information. Still, collecting customer data to achieve revenue goals remains a possibility.

A Mutually Beneficial Exchange

Over the last few years, people have become more conscious of the nefarious ways their data was being used. The misappropriation of consumer information by companies like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook led to the CCPA and GDPR laws regulating the ways data could be collected and used. Still, people don't mind exchanging data for value. Consumers are more inclined to provide personal information in exchange for discounts, pre-releases, or to enroll in loyalty programs. Collecting this data is still possible provided that its aggregated in compliance with privacy regulations and is collected for the purpose of statistical analysis or for the benefit of customers.

Making Consumer Data Anonymous

Data can be made anonymous in various ways. Companies can aggregate data by analyzing responses to media in specific markets and identifying similarities in the ways different segments interact with advertisements. Although you can't gather detailed personal information with this method, you can unearth valuable insights about things like what cities are converting best, which ad sets are getting the most engagement, and what age groups are interacting with brands the most. By grouping aggregate data in ways that measure how different demographics interact with different markets, companies can still build a profile of their customers in a privacy compliant way and measure the impact of their marketing efforts.

Q&A with Dr. Michael Cohen, Chief Data and Technology Officer at Marketing Evolution

Q. How do you see the collection and measurement of first-and-third-party data changing in the future?

A. In the future, there has to be some sort of way for people to have ownership of their data. You'll need to have a contract with your customers that's transparent about the exchange of data for value and how that data is being used. I think customers will get more control in that regard. The idea is for that data to exist as a contract on a blockchain with a clear understanding of how it has evolved, and who it's being sold to.

Q. Do you think third-party data is on its way out?

A. By way of cookie collection and methods like that, yes. But there's various other ways that we can collect that data.

Q. How do you see the changing data landscape and restrictions on the availability of data impacting predictive modelling?

A. When we talk about predictive modeling, we're focusing mostly on conducting inference about the customers and how they respond. If I can get representativeness from one percent of the data, that's going to be sufficient in driving insights on the impact of marketing. The bigger challenge is ensuring that the data is representative and that there's discipline applied to making that data representative across three key dimensions: the universe of consumers that you have represented in a potential market, the actual exposure in terms of media treatment towards those consumers, and the conversion activity.

Q. In an environment where there is more emphasis on consumer privacy, how can we use aggregate data to drive insights that improve the performance of creatives?

A. Where I have availability of this tactic level, granularity placement, message creative, as connected to a key performance indicator, I'm able to provide some sort of insight. When you get down to that level you might need more information to get a high degree of certainty such that you can take an action on something. I think that's where in-market experimentation comes in. You have some early signal that something is working, and on a smaller scale you begin to experiment.


"Customer-Centric Marketing in the Era of Privacy, Regulation, Walled Gardens, and Disappearing Cookies." Dr. Michael Cohen, Chief Data and Technology Officer at Marketing Evolution. 2020 ANA Masters of Data and Technology, 3/2/20.

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