Data privacy has come into sharper focus over the past year thanks to new state legislation and federal privacy laws like the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA). In fact, by the end of 2024, 75% of the world’s population will have personal data protected under modern privacy regulations, according to Gartner. But it was the big strategic shifts announced by Apple and Google — two of the most influential players in big tech — that brought data privacy into the cultural zeitgeist.
For years, consumers have known that their behaviors have been tracked. And for the most part they didn’t mind — if they were offered personalized experience across channels in return. But as more outside forces shine a spotlight on how those behaviors are turned into data that is leveraged for monetary gain, consumers are looking for more control over their information — and marketers are scrambling to keep pace.
“I’ve never seen disruption happen at the speed in which it’s happening,” said Jesse Redniss, CEO of Qonsent, a platform that enables brands to collect consent permissions for first-party data. “And this disruption has implications across so many different touch points for marketers, from your advertising to your data platform stack, right to your martech and adtech. How brands collect first-party data from consumers is shifting state by state, country by country, and there’s a lot at stake.”
Now, other hot-button issues are adding fuel to the data-transparency fire. Ongoing political tensions and the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade are putting a microscope on how social networks, retailers and other apps are using health data and other Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to create a customized (and helpful) user experience.
“Every person is now acutely aware of some of the implications of what search and location data could reveal about the choices they’re making,” said Redniss in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I think this is a very large tipping point for privacy and security, and the way we think about how our personal information is being used in our relationships with brands and platforms.”
To truly understand the impact of all these forces on consumers and the brands that market to them, Qonsent surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults and 125 marketers. Nearly all (94%) consumers agreed that it was important to have control over the information they shared with companies and how it was used. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said this was very important to them.
However, just as important as control is transparency, something that more brands and retailers are providing. More than three-quarters (77%) of surveyed consumers said that having transparency into data-driven practices would have an impact on their purchase decisions, while 47% said they actively try to purchase more from transparent brands. Having greater control over how their personal data is used would make many consumers feel more secure (51%), even empowered (49%).
Data Privacy Becomes a CMO Priority
As data privacy becomes more top-of-mind for consumers, it needs to become a more global concern within retail organizations, especially within marketing teams. Many marketers are taking note and are worried about the ripple effects: 86% of marketers are concerned that impending privacy laws will alter their data collection practices, according to the Qonsent survey.
Historically, these types of data-focused initiatives were driven by the Chief Privacy Officer and legal teams, Redniss noted, but there has been a significant shift in which executives and teams now have a seat at the table. After all, data privacy is now a business strategy conversation versus a strictly compliance-and-risk conversation.
“Over the last six months in particular, we’ve seen a huge shift with the inclusion of the CMO, audience acquisition teams and even first-party data strategy teams,” Redniss explained. “Agencies in particular are very attuned to the challenges of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework from Apple and the deprecation of third-party cookies and changing privacy legislation laws.”
Agencies in particular are trying to gain the data security prowess needed to improve their performance marketing strategies. Their goal is to become trusted advisors for brand and retailer partners that want to ensure their hard-earned dollars are supporting paid media that drives first-party data capture. They also want to ensure they’re feeding compliant first-party data capture into the data platforms they’re building for clients.
CMOs are largely at the center of these new and evolved conversations because they are the ones dictating performance and brand marketing investments. “It’s becoming a media strategy conversation,” Redniss noted. “We’re seeing the CMO lean into these conversations so the entire marketing team, data acquisition team and audience acquisition team is thinking about their CDP and CRM strategy and how to orchestrate that with their paid media to get a direct connection with consumers.”
Navigating the Changing Marketing Tides
With the looming loss of Google’s third-party cookies and the launch of Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers, CMOs and their teams have already had to re-examine how they allocate their marketing spend. They also have been looking for greater insight into how paid third-party channels such as TV advertising are driving first-party data acquisition.
“A lot of brands are thinking about media mix modeling and how they’re spending their dollars to drive transactions and create as many direct and strong relationships with consumers as they can,” Redniss explained. But the ever-expanding pool of laws and regulations, and the emergence of and warm reception toward ADPPA on both sides of the political aisle, mean that marketing teams will need to rethink how they’ve been operating over the last five to 10 years.
In fact, first-party data collection and security are increasingly interlocking. As brands and retailers collect more first-party data, they not only need to protect it, but also to provide consumers with more transparency into how that data is used.
“It’s going to take time to retool, rethink and rebuild data assets, but I don’t think that it should be scary to marketers,” Redniss said. “I think everyone should look at this as an opportunity to start building more on that trust and transparency component. When you can collect first-party data very compliantly and use those assets to build a relationship with the consumer, you’re going to hold onto them for longer and you’re going to get more value out of the relationship.”
The benefits go far beyond building trusted and profitable customer relationships. As marketing teams build out their first-party data, they can get a more detailed picture of consumers, which can lead to more accurate audience segmenting and personalization. Overall, this will lead to improved marketing efficiency and performance, as marketers rely less on modeling campaign performance based on unknown users.
Making Data Privacy a Companywide Mandate
In light of new and shifting privacy regulations, the broader organization needs to rally around data privacy and transparency. CMOs need to align with their CEO and CTO to collaborate on goals and ensure there are processes and systems in place for the secure collection and management of this data.
“When you think about how data is being captured from your owned touch points, your websites as well as your paid media, it all has to be orchestrated nicely with your product and technology teams,” Redniss explained. Technology systems need to be developed and integrated across commerce, marketing, research and product teams so they have access to insights and PII that support personalization and recommendations across the entire customer journey. To accomplish this level of orchestration, responsibility cannot simply lie with the CMO, according to Redniss: “That requires collaboration across many divisions.”
Cross-functional collaboration and data transparency will only become more crucial as customer loyalty becomes a top-level priority and more retailers try to capitalize on the rise of marketplaces and media networks, which rely on data to power advanced advertising capabilities.
“When you look at changing privacy laws, you have to get consent from the consumer to use credit card transaction information to drive these activations,” Redniss said. “That’s part of the nuance of this legislation, and retailers have the opportunity to use that nuance to their advantage to communicate the value exchange and use that activation [including when] it’s in-store with digital screens or QR codes. It’s about helping the consumer understand how the relationship can thrive when you get the proper consent from them to use that data to power those channels.”
Want to learn how you can collect more first-party data and bolster your marketing strategies to drive customer retention and loyalty? Stay tuned for our new Marketing Playbook, which will launch on July 28.