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Building Privacy, Transparency & Trust In Digital Marketing

In early 2018, the shocking news broke that social media giant Facebook had used deceptive disclosures and settings to undermine their users’ privacy preferences in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This allowed them to share users’ personal information with third-party applications downloaded by users’ Facebook ‘friends’ without their knowledge. As users had no clue their information was being shared; they were unaware they needed to take steps to opt-out of this data sharing. As a result, Facebook was fined $US5 billion, the largest amount ever imposed on any company for violating consumer privacy. While the fine was obviously damaging to the tech giant, more damaging was mistrust that quickly spread amongst Facebook’s users. Facebook had promised to protect consumer data and keep information private. Now users had no idea whether their data was given to third-party apps without their knowledge. 

This incident was definitely a devastating blow to Facebook, but it only confirmed what digital consumers already suspected; consumers couldn’t trust tech companies. These giants consistently violate consumers’ privacy in online spaces to make money on advertising. Unfortunately, every road in messy privacy breaches online usually lead us to advertising. At SponsoredLinX, digital marketing and advertising are what we do best. We love helping businesses reach their audiences through targeted digital advertising. However, we also value cybersecurity, privacy, and transparency in everything we do. We’re here to help you develop a digital marketing strategy that prioritises privacy and protects your customers’ data. 

What Does Digital Privacy Look Like In Today’s Online Landscape? 

At the time of writing, the online advertising industry is worth around USD$350 billion is under threat. For years digital marketing has shown little regard for consumer privacy. Marketers follow users as they go from site to site, and track cookies to create more detailed, tailored advertising strategies. However, everything looks set to change. 

  • There’s a lack of trust from consumers. Now that the tactics used by tech companies, data brokers, and digital marketers have been exposed, consumers don’t feel like they can trust that their privacy and data will be protected and respected. As a result, consumers are taking preventative measures such as installing ad-blocking software, opting out of tracking on Apple devices, and installing VPNs to prevent their activities from being monitored. 
  • Tech companies are reviewing their privacy policies. Google and Apple have recently reviewed their positions on privacy in an attempt to appease their consumers’ fears. Apple has rolled out a range of tools that block marketers from tracking online activity. Google, whose lifeblood is digital advertising, is trying to find the balance between targeted advertising and data privacy. 
  • Countries worldwide are introducing regulations. Each country is developing and implementing its own regulations and policies around data sharing to try and protect consumer privacy as much as possible. For example, the Australian government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have been working to develop Consumer Data Right (CDR), which gives consumers more control over and greater access to their data, thereby improving their ability to compare and switch between products and services. 
  • Many free sites still rely on cookies. Google defines a cookie as a small piece of code sent to your browser by a website you visit that helps the site remember information about your visit, making your experience on your next visit unique to you. As user-friendly as they sound, marketers use cookies to track consumer activity on a particular site or app, collecting information about that user. Marketers also use cookies alongside invisible trackers in certain apps and share insights with data brokers to create targeted advertising. This advertising ecosystem has enabled sites like BuzzFeed and Facebook and apps like TikTok and Instagram to remain free for users. 

Can Digital Marketing And Data Privacy Coexist? 

If tech companies can’t exploit personal information for highly targeted advertising, where does that leave the future of digital marketing? Let’s take a look at what you can do to respect your consumers’ privacy. 

  • Collect data responsibly. If you plan on collecting data and personal information on your consumers, you need to treat that information with the utmost respect. Make sure your customers know which pieces of information you are collecting and why you’re collecting it. Businesses also need to explicitly explain the steps taken to ensure consumer data and privacy is protected at all times. You should also consider incorporating an opt-out feature, so customers have complete control over their own personal data. 
  • Be transparent. Consumers value honesty and transparency from businesses above all else, so if you really want to engage in ethical digital marketing, you need to be honest with your consumers. Whether you’re collecting data, developing targeted ads for remarketing purposes, or updating your cybersecurity policies, make sure you are completely transparent with your online customers. 
  • Focus on your ad content. If you’d like to move away from tracking early and adapt to other forms of digital marketing, one of the first things you can do is try to develop higher-quality ad copy. You’ll need to step away from highly targeted advertising and consider ways to market to wider audiences. It’s better to start practising now to give yourself a competitive edge. 
  • Train your team in privacy. One of the most effective ways to balance digital marketing with data privacy is to train each and every team member within your organisation on the correct privacy practices. When everyone understands the policies, it’s easier to guarantee data security to your consumers. 
  • Increase communication. Rather than showing an advertisement targeted specifically toward one consumer, advertisers will need to work harder and increase communication to gain front of mind recall. 
  • Incentivise generic data sharing. If you need to capture specific pieces of information from your consumers, but you don’t want to infringe on their privacy, consider placing gated offers in front of surveys or forms. For example, create a pop up that exchanges a client’s email address for 15% off their purchase. Alternatively, develop a customer survey that enters consumers into a draw to win a prize. 

The Future Of Digital Marketing And Data Security: How To Stay On Top

Based on the current state of digital marketing and cybersecurity, SponsoredLinX has a few predictions about the industry’s future. 

  • Consumers will have more choices. Brands will need to provide plenty of opt-in and opt-out options for their customers and make sure consumers feel empowered to take control of their own data sharing. If you provide information on how you collect, use, and store information, consumers may opt-in to data collection. 
  • Switch from analysing micro metrics to macro metrics. Analysing the micro metrics from very specific campaigns won’t be of much use in the future, so the sooner you start analysing consumer data from a more macro perspective, the better at it you’ll become. 
  • Marketing based on interests. Google has trialled a method that uses its data collection to place consumers into groups based on interests, so marketers can aim advertisements at cohorts rather than individuals. So what does that mean exactly? Well, it means that advertising will take a step back to focus on wider audiences. Like billboards and posters, marketers will need to design these ads to capture the attention of a range of people. Advertisers will need to get more creative than ever to pique consumer interest. 
  • AI to the rescue. As artificial intelligence continues to develop, digital marketers will need to rely on this technology to target various groups of consumers accurately. There are plenty of new tools available that leverage AI for far more in-depth analyses of consumer behaviour than anything that has come before, so it’s exciting to see where this technology will go next. 
  • There may be different internets for different people, depending on your device. Apple seems pretty adamant that they want their consumers to have complete control over adblocking and tracking settings. They believe that since their customers pay a premium price for their products, they should have the ability to control what they are exposed to on those products. This could lead to two different kinds of internet for different people. Apple users will see generic ads only somewhat tailored to their interests, whereas users on other devices will receive highly targeted advertisements based on their previous purchases and online activity. 
  • Expect more subscription services. For years, the primary currency of the internet was information. Marketers sold personal data and targeted consumers with advertising encouraging them to spend more money. If users aren’t providing their personal information as currency, something else will need to pay for the internet. Some companies are choosing to use subscription services and other charges. These transactions allow the business to stay afloat while simultaneously protecting their consumers’ data. 
  • Cookies aren’t going anywhere yet. Google has announced that they don’t plan to block trackers in Chrome until 2023, giving marketers time to figure out how to adapt and keep serving customers with targeted advertising. However, without cookies, Gartner predicts that 80% of digital marketers will abandon highly personalised advertising by 2025 in favour of more efficient strategies. 

If You’re Looking To Find The Balance Between Proactive Cybersecurity And Digital Marketing, SponsoredLinX Is Here To Help

When it comes to digital marketing, the team at SponsoredLinX are the experts. We’ll take care of everything from your Google Ads management through to your SEO strategy. We’re here to help you improve your cybersecurity so your customers have the best experience with your business. So, what are you waiting for? Contact the team at SponsoredLinX to get started!