You, Me and Privacy: Here’s What Brand Marketers Can Learn from Regulated Industries Like Crypto and Healthcare

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By Joseph Antonucci, Director of Strategy & Planning, Croud

In 1968, Andy Grove became the third person Intel Corporation ever hired. He was president of the business by 1979, CEO by 1989—and CEO and Chairman in 1999, a title he held until 2016.

To many, he’s regarded as the founding father of Silicon Valley, which is to say that what he thinks, feels and says matters. In an interview in 2007, he said  that “privacy is one of the biggest problems in this new electronic age.”

How right he was then and is now.

Almost fifteen years later, privacy has become the battleground that cannot be avoided, with new laws and regulations emerging year after year.

Apple, seeking to adopt the role of privacy enforcers, has revised their privacy policy so that app developers now have access to anonymized data, marking a significant shift away from presenting personal information specific to users. Google has also made some effort to protect consumers’ best interests, introducing plans to block third-party cookies, from 2023.

While some industries are necessarily changing their stance after enjoying relatively relaxed measures, others have taken things in stride. Some sectors, such as healthcare and the rapidly-emerging crypto market, were subjected to tough privacy laws from the get-go.

Brand marketers in these industries have developed successful marketing strategies under the context of strong privacy laws for years. Now, marketers from across industries are looking to these sectors as case studies for how to operate in a privacy-first world.

Here’s what we’ve learned.

Health and Safety (and Privacy)

Digital advertising in the healthcare sector is booming. Adspend in the U.S. reached $11.25bn in 2021, an 18% bump year-over-year.

Healthcare is big business, of course, but marketers must adhere to strict regulatory requirements and simultaneously consider the privacy laws safeguarding the public.

With these concerns in mind, brand marketers in the healthcare sector are moving away from specific targeting, in favor of building generic consumer personas. By targeting generic consumer personas, healthcare brands avoid becoming ensnared in ethical dilemmas. Customer experiences are improved, and marketers can continue to utilize discrete datasets.

Observing social media trends as well as traffic to particular websites can help further shape advertising strategies. Brands and advertisers can target keywords and phrases that prospective consumers use, meaning ads can reach the relevant demographics without breaching privacy laws through targeting specific consumers.

New York-Presbyterian’s Vital Urgent Care campaign is a solid example of effective keyword targeting. Their approach vis-à-vis healthcare regulations includes adopting a policy based on three core pillars:

  • Compliance
  • Safety
  • Consideration

Creating their own ethical standards has provided them with a bespoke platform to drive excellent advertising results. The campaign saw impressions increase by 40%, with CPC 25% lower than expected, while simultaneously ensuring they abided by the necessary laws in place.

Growing up Fast

Cryptocurrency has quickly become a hugely lucrative industry. Bitcoin’s market cap reached $1.4bn earlier this year, a new record, following Tesla’s $1.5bn investment. Social media has been instrumental in its rise to the top.

Social platforms have provided the opportunity for new audiences to engage with a topic which was previously off-limits, with a Bitcoin-related post dropping once every three seconds. It’s worth mentioning that the frequency is largely due to a recent change in Facebook’s policy which, as of May 8, 2021, allows cryptocurrency and blockchain-related advertisements to appear on the site without prior approval.

However, a major hurdle for brand marketers remains, stemming from the fact that the majority of clients are fairly unfamiliar with crypto. With products continuing to diversify, such as the recent NFT boom, ad agencies can no longer make blind assumptions on the type of consumer they are targeting.

Anonymous first-party data remains key, allowing marketers to browse through relevant information including previous consumer transactions and typical browsing activities, without breaking the trust of their audiences. With 75% of U.S. adults citing concerns about their online privacy, this is a fine line to walk and one we will continue to walk in the months and years to come.

And even then, we can’t emphasize enough how tricky accessing such data can be, due to the nature of blockchain and anonymous wallets. This means brands often spend as much time identifying potential consumers as they do figuring out who already visits their sites. Not ideal, of course, but quite necessary.

It also deserves mentioning that the regulatory bodies policing the crypto sector are responsible for implementing privacy rules to protect a consumer base who are still learning what crypto is and how to use it.

From a broader standpoint, this can be used to inform future advertising operations across industries. Brands within the space must balance utilizing advertising designed to raise awareness with advertising designed to educate consumers, with the latter doing double duty to raise the whole sector itself.

Going forward, privacy standards are set to be made uniform across the board. Brand marketers working in heavily restricted sectors like crypto are trailblazers; while other industries are attempting to play catch-up, they’ve already mastered the art of producing privacy-compliant ads which engage consumers (a win-win).

Don’t Dish the Dirt on Audiences

As Grove predicted, privacy has emerged as one of the great challenges of the electronic age.

Brand marketers attempting to navigate the privacy-focused modern world, are naturally concerned about infringing upon privacy regulations. Truth be told, it’s a delicate dance. Running the risk of losing prospective consumers or unwittingly breaking laws is far from ideal, either for ad agencies or clients.

As stringent rules become the new normal, brand marketers should aspire to replicate the framework that regulated industries have perfected.