On Wednesday, August 22, we hosted an expert panel, Data Privacy and the Future of Advertising, at Metric Theory’s San Francisco headquarters. The event sought to address how advertisers should respond to the growing scrutiny around consumer data privacy and management.

Our panelists included:

  • Christopher Murphy, Head of Strategy at LiveRamp
  • Adam Corey, Chief Marketing Officer at Tealium
  • Scott Brown, Global Director of Product Marketing at Quantcast
  • Harmon Lyons, SVP of Global Business Development at Integral Ad Science
  • Sam Jones, Director of Platform Sales at DataXu
  • Myles Younger, Director of Marketing at MightyHive
  • Moderator – Mike Hans, CEO, Forge Group

While there was not one clear-cut solution to handling data privacy issues, the main message from the panel was clear: data privacy is not something digital businesses can ignore. Here are five takeaways from the panel discussion.

Take Consent Seriously

Above and beyond legal compliance, all panelists agreed that building marketing around consumer consent is often essential. A main driver of the push for more regulation is a growing sense of mistrust many consumers have with advertising. Establishing consent with people interacting with your brand puts your company in a stronger position to win their business in the future.

Take stock of all the ways in which you’re collecting personally identifiable information and personal data. Review the underlying privacy policies and ensure that they’re being complied with by following the lifecycle of that data in your organization. Also, question whether you need to collect specific data to make business and marketing decisions.

Build a Value Relationship Between Your Brand & the Consumer

While GDPR and other regulations are a recent development, consumer concerns over abusive, annoying, and intrusive ads have been around for some time. Whether it’s frustration with pop-ups and autoplay audio ads or people installing ad blockers, a number of consumers have expressed discontent with certain forms of digital advertising.

The heart of engaging with people is offering something of value. Consumers are often fine sharing their personal data if they feel they are getting value in return. One of the panelists discussed how 23andMe has built trust with customers. People are willing to mail their DNA to 23andMe because they feel there is value to providing this information. To overcome the natural concern that might exist in that setting, 23andMe continuously presents consent prompts at multiple points in the relationship, reinforcing their commitment to personal privacy.

To understand if the relationship between your brand and your consumer is not in balance, the panelists recommended reviewing the messaging and offer progression of your marketing. Offer value up front and consider doing so without asking for detailed data. Show restraint with frequency caps, and look at investing in ad verification to ensure ad frequency can be better enforced across programs. People often need time and consideration before they are ready to purchase. Honor their need to research and build a relationship before immediately asking for their personal data or their credit card number.

Data Privacy Regulations Are Empowering First-Party Data

While regulation attempts to provide greater consumer protections, it has also presents a major business challenge for publishers and ad technology platforms. With compliance requiring a significant effort and the stakes so high, the largest data collectors have since pulled back marketer access and insight to user data.

With shrinking access to third-party data, advertisers’ first-party data collection becomes more important than ever. Building around your own data allows you to stay more connected to your current and future customers.

Pressure for Additional Privacy Regulations Will Continue

Concern about data privacy isn’t a new issue, but it’s become more top-of-mind for consumers in recent years due to hyper-targeted advertising and increased news coverage. In a quick straw poll during the panel event, most attendees knew someone who felt that their phones were listening to them for advertising purposes.

Soon after GDPR went into effect in May, California signed off on its own version of a data privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and more privacy laws across the nation are expected to follow. Even setting regulation aside, other companies are pushing changes in the name of data privacy. Apple has been a notable player, rolling out “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” (ITP) in 2017 with even more ad tracking prevention being implemented this month in the Safari browser (often referred to as ITP 2.0).

The Future Is Muddy, But Action Is Recommended

Despite there still being a long road ahead before legislation and enforcement are clarified, all panelists emphasized that companies should not wait on taking action. Engage your legal teams, examine your data collection, and think about your ad targeting strategies.

Stay tuned for more on this topic from Metric Theory and our partners. For more on data privacy and for alerts on future events, you can sign up for our email newsletter.