Data privacy has been a growing concern of digital consumers for the last few years. Advertisers have made adjustments over the years to ease these concerns but it’s come at a cost – making it difficult to advertise to their target audience.
There’s still a lot of debate on what’s next for the advertising industry. Do marketers feel confident that they found a balance between privacy and utility? If not, is it even possible to accomplish?
Retailers and Data Privacy
Let’s take the retail industry as an example. Retail was turned upside down when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March 2020. When the entire country shut down, shoppers were stuck indoors. Retailers started to invest in digital strategies to increase revenue during this uncertain time.
This included “expanding order pickup technology, creating a more user-friendly e-commerce site and a push towards augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)” (RetailDive, 2022). Brands and companies needed to get creative in order to entice shoppers to buy. For some, this was an area they weren’t familiar with or had experience in.
“This also meant brands were finding new and varied ways of collecting and using consumer data — a fact shoppers were aware of” (RetailDive, 2022).
Cisco surveyed 2,600 adults across 12 countries and found a common theme in their results – “consumers want more transparency from companies about how personal data is being used” (RetailDive, 2022). The survey found that many consumers are concerned about how their personal data is being used and that they value privacy laws because of this.
One survey question explicitly asked respondents What do you think is the most important action a company can take regarding data transparency? 39% said providing clear information on how my data is being used (RetailDive, 2022).
U.S. state governments aren’t waiting for companies to make this information clear to consumers. “Two state laws have already been signed regarding data privacy. Three other state laws were signed between 2020 -2021. And nine other state bills are active” (RetailDive, 2022).
I also side with the consumers surveyed by Cisco. I want my personal data protected and I want to know how it’s going to be used. With the 2022 Midterm Elections approaching, I receive multiple SMS texts daily that I’m sure many can relate to. Personally, I find this annoying because I didn’t agree to receive these communications and I’ve already decided that I’m voting and who I am voting for. The fact that my personal data was shared with third parties without my permission and has led to a bombarding of communications is a little disheartening.
But being a marketer, I can see how this can be a challenge and make it more difficult to reach your target audience. Is relying on first-party data enough to accomplish marketing goals and drive necessary revenue?
As more companies and technology experts hold roundtable discussions on this topic, I’m interested to learn if there is a balance between data privacy and utility. How do marketers and advertisers respect human rights but also get the information they need to successfully do their job?