In 2021, China became the first country in the world to see its online sales surpass brick-and-mortar sales. While no other country comes close to meeting this milestone yet, global e-commerce sales saw double-digit growth in 2021. The pandemic is a significant contributing factor to increases in online activity and rapid advancements in digital marketing strategies. Advertisers have been able to create highly targeted advertisements due to the seemingly limitless potential of data sharing, but the industry is about to be rocked by some pretty drastic changes. Consumers want more control over their privacy, and recent data sharing scandals (Facebook, we’re looking at you) have initiated new regulations around the world. The changes will bring about an era of privacy-first marketing, and the team at Search Marketing Experts are here to help our clients get a head start so their businesses will thrive.
Why Is Data Sharing Changing?
There are a few reasons why regulations have been put in place, and companies worldwide are changing their policies on data sharing.
- Consumers don’t trust current policies. As the tactics tech companies and digital marketers use come to light, consumers don’t feel that their privacy and data will be protected and respected. As a result, people are investing in VPNs and ad-blocking software to prevent sites from accessing their private information.
- Companies have been violating consumer privacy. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Ashley Madison, Uber, Marriott, Ticketmaster; these companies have all received fines for abusing customer data. The catalyst for many was the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook was fined a record-breaking USD$5 billion for misusing their users’ data. Ever since, stricter data sharing policies have been introduced in the interests of protecting consumers and their information.
- To better manage data exchanges. Data sharing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Data and information sharing helps advertisers learn what consumers want and need from their online environment. It will enable businesses to offer real value to customers, providing people with opportunities to personalise their online experience. Policies that enforce data sharing regulations force companies and digital marketers to think more critically about collecting and using data, providing consumers with a more carefully curated experience.
What Changes Can You Expect To See?
The changes to data sharing range from policy changes within individual organisations to nationwide regulations.
- Consumer Data Right (CDR). The Australian government have been working alongside the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop the CDR. This right gives consumers more control over and greater access to their data, thereby improving their ability to compare and switch between products and services. Currently, CDR focuses on banking and has the energy sector in its sights, but it’s an excellent start for consumers.
- Bye, cookies. Google announced they plan to block tracking cookies in Chrome by 2023, so digital marketers will need to figure out how to adapt and deliver targeted advertising. It’s estimated that more than 80% of digital marketers will abandon hyper-tailored advertising campaigns once cookies are blocked in search of something more efficient.
- Most subscription/micro-transaction services. A significant reason so many apps and sites like Facebook and TikTok are free is that they use personal data as currency. Companies buy your data and information to deliver highly personalised ads. When users stop sharing their information, these major platforms will need to look elsewhere for money, and some are turning to subscription fees or in-app charges. While it might be frustrating to some consumers, subscription-based apps and sites are doing everything they can to protect their users from unwanted advertising and exploitation of their data.
- Various companies are handling data sharing differently. While some organisations still allow data sharing, for now, others have taken a hard early stance. For example, Apple wants its consumers to have complete control over adblocking and tracking settings. Apple users have the freedom to opt-out of all tracking through web browsers and third-party apps. In fact, users of iOS 14.5 and beyond will need to deliberately opt-in to sharing their unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) within apps. At the moment, some Apple users see generic ads only somewhat tailored to their interests. Meanwhile, users of other devices are still receiving highly targeted advertising based on previous purchases and online activity.
What Does This Mean For Your Digital Marketing Strategy?
Before you panic, changes to data sharing isn’t the be-all and end-all for digital marketing. There are plenty of things you can do to tweak your strategy and give yourself an edge over your competitors.
- Start marketing to wider audiences. As companies are forced to move away from tracking, they’ll need to learn to market to wider audiences in an online space. You can get a head start by beginning to experiment with high-quality ad content now. That way, when cookies disappear, you’ll be pioneering a new form of marketing.
- Look at your audiences’ interests. Google trialled data collection methods placing consumers into groups based on interests rather than segmenting them into hyper-niche groups. If you can step back and start developing creative ads that target wider audiences (like billboards and posters do), your digital strategy will be in a far better position.
- Develop incentives. Stricter policies and regulations around data sharing don’t mean data sharing will stop altogether. It simply means users will have more control over who has access to their data. If you need to capture information from your consumers without infringing on privacy, consider using gated offers. For example, create a pop up that exchanges a client’s email address for 15% off their purchase.
- You may need to consider AI technology. As artificial intelligence develops, digital marketers will turn to this technology to accurately analyse various groups of consumers. Already, there are AI tools available providing far more in-depth analyses of consumer behaviour than we’ve seen before. So, we’d suggest looking into AI sooner rather than later.
How Can You Stay One Step Ahead?
You don’t need to wait around for all the changes to happen before changing your strategy. There are actions you can take today that will put your business in the best possible position to thrive once data sharing policies and regulations roll out.
- Be transparent with your customers. Ethical digital marketing means being honest with your audiences, so try to be completely transparent about your data collection process. Your customers will respect your business far more if you maintain open communication that prioritises honesty.
- Collect data responsibly. If you plan on asking your consumers to share their data with you, you need to prove to them that you will treat it with the utmost respect and privacy. Create clear policies outlining which pieces of information you’re collecting and why you need to collect it. Explicitly clarify the steps you plan to take to protect your data and incorporate an opt-out feature. In doing this, your consumers know they are the ones in charge of their data privacy.
- Start looking at macro metrics. What’s the point of analysing micro metrics from hyper-specific campaigns if you can no longer collect data by tracking cookies? Instead, start looking at your consumer data from a more macro perspective. That way you can create campaigns that effectively target broader audiences.
If You Need Help Rolling Out Privacy-First Marketing Strategies, The Team At Search Marketing Experts Are Here To Help
Your business’s digital marketing strategy is essential, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your consumers’ privacy. The team at Search Marketing Experts are here to help you create privacy-first marketing strategies that find the balance between creative digital marketing and protecting your consumers’ privacy. So if you’re ready to catapult your business into the stratosphere, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Search Marketing Experts today!