The recent announcement from Google is a positive development for consumers and data privacy, but comes as no surprise for creative, media and digital marketers.
Even before Apple and Mozilla made similar announcements last year about cookie blocking, marketers and ad-tech providers were preparing for this shift in media technology.
Marketers will continue to do so as they learn more detail about how Google intends to specifically implement these changes on Chrome, which is the world’s most-used Web browser.
How cookie crumbles
Media agencies will have the most work to do to eliminate any negative effects on their businesses and their ability to serve media effectively.
Separately, with a clear consumer focus on data privacy, creative and digital marketers will need to adapt their innovative processes and differentiated customer experiences to comply with these emerging standards. They have come to embrace the mobile-first world of today and have even shifted their consumer interactions in that direction.
For this reason, marketers need to start strategizing about the future of their businesses, the role of data in the work, and how they need to evolve. This is an incremental process that will not happen overnight, but there is no shortage of talent or technology today to bring about that change.
At the NRF 2020 conference mid-January in New York, the themes of personalization and customization dominated the discussion, bolstered by successful examples, all resonating positively with consumers.
Although marketers want to know their customers better to enhance these themes, that does not mean they should ignore customer data privacy or security dangers to do so.
Whether or not industry practitioners agree with Google's plan for cookie blocking, this is the inevitable future of marketing.
Own data or not?
However, for the time being, marketers know that this will likely not be a major alteration in the way they work nor does it go a long way in supporting data privacy. This is because browser-tracking cookies primarily provide a method for retargeting, but data collection comes from numerous sources and by many different methods.
Owning the data is one solution to these privacy-inspired changes, but this may not align with brands and marketers seeking to stay nimble and strategic.
First-party data collection carries with it contractual obligations in meeting service level agreements and additional hurdles related to cost and quality.
While there have been a few companies trying to circumvent data privacy or even abuse it – exemplified in the news or mentioned in government inquiries over the past year – the majority of providers embrace it.
These providers still deliver products that enhance customer experience and deliver meaningful messaging for brands.
The industry must police itself, educate consumers, and support new governance needed to weed out irresponsible parties because consumers will continue to demand and carry the banner for reform.
Thus, partnering with those reputable data and intelligence agencies or providers is the best way forward in the present environment.
Marketers strive to support the creative vision of their teams and to deliver meaningful, highly relevant customer experiences.
In addition to educating colleagues and clients, they should select data partners who are not only responsible in their practices, but that are also proactive in bringing technology and governance reform to the industry.
Additionally, and arguably more importantly, innovation will be the key to the future of “secure personalization.”
Whether marketers have known for quite some time or only began to take notice recently, the Google announcement emphasizes their need for better, modern underlying technologies in the media ecosystem.
These technologies should allow for fair and transparent commerce, while enabling consumers to feel confident that their privacy is intact.
Blockchain is one tool that has started to be applied in other areas of the industry and can be a component in innovation.
However, marketers should be even more inventive when thinking about how they can create those personalized experiences for customers without having such a dependency on the Googles and Facebooks of the world.
While those companies have enormous sway, innovators within the industry could also work to create new and secure ways for marketers to deliver personalized experiences for customers.
AS WITH MANY impactful and important public messages that originated from marketers, changes in privacy practices should demonstrate the continued commitment to always putting the consumers first.
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Jillian Shapiro is director of digital and data marketing at WongDoody, Seattle. Reach her at email@example.com.