New Privacy Regulations: Now What?

What do apples and cookies have in common? Yes, they are both sweet snacks in polar opposite food groups. But in the world of digital marketing they're prompting some industry shifts that you need to know about.  

You have probably heard by now that Google plans to dissolve the use of 3rd party cookies by the end of 2022. You’ve probably also heard that Apple’s latest iOS14 software push gives users more control over their privacy settings in mobile apps. These are bold steps to support consumer privacy, which is important!  And while these changes can present some challenges for marketers, they will help to deliver positive and non-invasive experiences to users. 

We are only in the early stages of understanding the impact of these changes. But it's important to start thinking about how they will affect your business. Here are a few things to start thinking about:

Understand Changes to Audience Targeting

These changes will make it more challenging to reach your ideal customer. For example, behavioral targeting will cease to exist, forcing marketers to alter their targeting approach. Behavioral targeting allows marketers to serve super-relevant ads based on your prior online interactions—the websites you've visited, the items you've purchased, the mobile apps you’ve interacted with, and so on. 

Moving forward, brands will no longer have those insights to inform their messaging approach. They will have to rely on contextual targeting instead, which is basically trying to anticipate what types of websites a user will be visiting.

As an example, let’s say that you are a baby diaper brand trying to target new mothers. Behavioral targeting would have identified a “new mother” by reviewing the sites she has been on (e.g., the relevant purchases that she has made (e.g. an infant carrier), and the terms that she has searched online (e.g. tips for newborns).

She would then be served an ad on any website that she is browsing—say, In this instance, the actual ad placement is less important as the data that has already identified her as our target audience. Conversely, with contextual targeting, ad placement is everything. Since we do not know about her online behavior history, we would need to buy inventory on a specific website that we think new moms would frequent, like

Build Your 1st Party Database

1st party data, or the data that your brand has collected first hand, is going to be more vital than ever. Do you have an email list of those that subscribe to your newsletter? Do you have a loyalty program tied to your mobile app? This 1st party data can be utilized for audience targeting.

Spend time now to better understand your users. Perform an audit of your email by cleaning your lists, create audience personas, get rid of non-engaged audiences, etc. If you don’t have a solid understanding of your current customer base, implement a lead generation strategy now to help build your database. You’ll be glad that you did come 2022.

Review Your Marketing Mix

Think about the digital tactics that do not rely as heavily on behavioral data. Paid search, online radio, connected TV, influencer marketing, and email marketing are a few examples. All of these channels are incredibly powerful when implemented strategically and will be relatively unaffected by the new privacy changes.

Adjust Performance Expectations

While it's too soon to know the extent of performance impacts, we do anticipate that our digital strategies are going to fluctuate. New targeting approaches, potential increases in digital media pricing, and the unknown effects to platform attribution will all likely impact performance. Understand that you are going to need to set new performance benchmarks for your brand, and make sure your key stakeholders understand that as well.

Anticipate Not-So-Clear Location Data

iOS14 will update the kinds of user location data marketers receive from mobile devices. This update will prompt a user to set their location as either precise or approximate for each app they use. Precise location will be fairly accurate as to where the user is, but approximate location will be more broad, showing the user’s location within a 10 mile radius from where they truly are. This will make a difference for brands that rely on a user’s precise location to serve messaging. While there will be some apps where a user will likely want their precise location tracked (i.e. The Weather Channel), there may be others where location is less important (i.e. Audible).

Be Prepared to Get Technical

With all of these changes, there are likely going to be changes with how platforms receive your website data. For example, we know that 3rd party cookies are going away. In other words, a Facebook pixel will no longer allow Facebook to pull data from your site. Instead, there will be an opportunity for brands to instead push data to Facebook via an API integration (which is compliant). We also know that there will be some alternative options for data aggregation, (i.e. Google’s Privacy Sandbox), but there is much more to learn about how this will play out.

While all of this seems like a marketer’s worst nightmare, it's a significant step to ensure that consumer privacy remains paramount online. Of course, you can always reach out to Click Rain for help. Our team is prepared to navigate these new developments for our clients, and to continue creating the most effective digital marketing campaigns possible.