By Lloyd Davies, Managing Director of Making Science UK
As online data privacy restrictions continue to tighten, even the biggest companies are not immune. Google recently fell foul of the French Data Protection Act, with the Commission Nationale Informatique & Libertés (CNIL) threatening fines over the tech giant’s violation of cookie consent laws. In response, Google reengineered its cookie consent framework, letting users more easily opt out.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg; the looming loss of third party data – despite Google recently delaying the phase out – and increased consumer awareness over privacy rights has dramatically changed the landscape and created a new privacy ecosystem. With the shift already underway, there is a pressing need for advertisers to rethink the way resources are organised according to measurement, attribution and programmatic activations.
The implementation of tighter privacy restrictions has a serious effect on many companies’ targeting strategy – failing to find a solution could result in companies losing up to 25% of their collected data.
First party data is increasingly important in the privacy ecosystem, and will become more so as the cookie is retired. Safely collecting and storing this data will be key in streamlining activation, measurement and attribution – especially for smaller brands who lack the large data pools of larger companies.
Google has put forward several solutions to assist with privacy secure data collection. The first is Consent Mode, which allows markers to collect site interactions without the use of identifiers by adjusting the behaviour of Google tags and scripts based on the consent given by site visitors. The second tool is Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This new suite will replace Universal Analytics in 2023, and is an update that has privacy built into its core. It allows marketers to gain more granular data control, making it easier for advertisers to comply with specific regulations, such as GDPR or CCPA.
Personalisation’s ability to reach consumers is undisputed. Companies that capitalise on personalisation are able to get 40% more revenue than those who do not optimise their strategies. Consumers are not only used to seeing personalisation, but have embraced its benefits, with 81% of consumers saying they would not interact with a brand’s communication if it was not personalised.
The new privacy ecosystem throws up problems for brands’ personalisation efforts, and customers are noticing – nearly two-thirds of UK consumers have been left frustrated by a brands personalisation efforts. Personalising at the scale and depth needed to truly chime with consumers is a large task and 60% of executives believe it is an area that needs significantly more investment.
AI can prove a powerful tool for personalisation, helping brands reach scale in their efforts at speed, with the heavy-lifting being taken care of by the software and without collecting their data, instead personalising messaging based on their interests.
Take, for example, search engine marketing. Though effective at attracting the interest of consumers at the top of the sales funnel, it can be difficult for brands to stand out. But by combining AI with a natural language generation tool, ads can be tailored exactly to the search terms of individual consumers without the need for time intensive copywriting. Travel company Iberostar utilised these tools in a recent search engine marketing campaign, which led to a direct increase in profitability and 18.1% increase in click-through rates.
Despite UK marketing budgets continuing to grow in Q2 2022, the increasing cost of living and rapid inflation has sown worry among marketers, with reductions in ad spend expected. For marketers cutting back budgets, having a grasp on which areas are providing good ROI is an imperative.
Good data housekeeping not only ensures that data is up-to-date, but also privacy compliant. While there are many tech solutions that can assist with this task, keeping implementation simple makes budgeting more effective in the long run. Tools that flag potential discrepancies and issue, consent management platforms and both Consent Mode and GA4 can all be utilised to reduce waste. A strategy utilising a tested data method as the focus is the best way for brands to prevent budget wastage.
Brands and marketers need to look at the new privacy ecosystem not as a threat, but instead as an opportunity. Though some ways to reach and target consumers may become obsolete, others are constantly opening up and trialling these new methods before third-party data is taken away is key to being ready for when they do. By getting ahead of the curve, future-proofing against incoming legislation and properly managing data, companies can reduce waste while still reaching audiences in a highly personalised manner.