Evolution of Privacy and Identify Tracking
We are now living in an experience economy, where people have higher expectations of brands than ever before and they no longer differentiate between touch points. Whatever your brand, product or service, your customers and clients expect seamless Amazon-like experiences that are frictionless, timely and relevant.
This has traditionally been enabled by data collected via cookies, providing a way for sites to measure and monetise their audiences. It has also allowed marketers to make more informed investment decisions and provide an impactful digital experience. However, consumers are increasingly savvy to how their data is being used and are, quite rightly, concerned. High-profile misconduct of data use such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has only fuelled this increasing lack of trust. People are seeking control of their own data and expecting protection from governments and regulators.
Globally we have already seen the implementation of GDPR, and more localised acts such as California Data Act. In Australia, the ACCC has made some strong recommendations, which will take another 18 months to two years for the industry to navigate and negotiate. In the meantime, browsers are strengthening privacy controls, which will essentially make cookies obsolete and by extension, third-party data used to target and enrich first-party data will add no value.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. In fact, it’s an opportunity for the industry to evolve to a standardised identity framework that is fit for purpose, and provides privacy controls and consistency in tracking. Think of this in the same way we have standardised telephone numbers and addresses, with consumer privacy preferences attached to the standard identifier. We are already on the journey – the dominance of walled gardens (Facebook and Google) and the rise of on-demand TV has normalised the ‘log in for a better experience’ concept. This has given rise to first party data being used at scale (email address and mobile numbers) for personalisation and to find similar customers (look-a-like audiences).
This model is still flawed as it’s effectively privatising privacy and disconnects data between walled gardens and the open web (everything outside of site or platform where you log in).
IAB Tech Lab SVP, Head of Consumer Privacy, Identity and Data Jordan Mitchell has suggested this takes the form of a unique “token”. Businesses would then need to consistently demonstrate compliance to privacy preferences to access the token and associated data. The proposal recommends that these standards are set up as public utilities and subject to regulation that is monitored by government entities as well as self-regulation by the digital media and marketing industries and browser providers.
Ultimately, this could create a world where technology and brands deliver against consumer expectations for better customer experiences and brands will have a greater impact by delivering more relevant experiences to the right audiences while improving their modelling and measurement capabilities.
What does this all mean for brands?
The outcome of this transformation is positive for brands. An approach for a universal ID will only improve their ability to deliver relevance in moments that matter and enable smarter business decisions based on real behaviours. But this is still years away from being solved. In the meantime, cookies will become increasingly obsolete and data remain siloed and privatised.
We work with clients to execute a four-staged approach to getting their business to a next practice data solution: