Marketers, make privacy a core competency not just a specialist subject
Google’s UK privacy lead Adam Taylor tells us why privacy is a core skill for the modern marketer and how to make it your personal competitive superpower.
Privacy proficiency is the modern marketer's competitive superpower
Privacy isn’t just a marketing matter, it’s central to all business decisions. Marketers who can approach privacy through a different lens to upskill themselves and their teams and communicate in the right way to key stakeholders will be able to make better product and technology decisions, gain a competitive advantage and win the trust of consumers.
Major changes are happening across the regulatory landscape, with third-party cookies soon to disappear, while technological advances driven by automation and artificial intelligence have put privacy front and center of every marketer’s mind. As a result, privacy proficiency – which was traditionally seen as a specialist subject confined to legal/compliance teams – is the differentiator that will set the modern marketer apart to be able to meet customer expectations through responsible advertising, now and in the future.
“Privacy is no longer a specialist subject in marketing, it’s a core competency,” says Adam Taylor, UK privacy lead of Google Marketing Platform (GMP) at Google. “That comes through in a number of ways – the way you hire, train and upskill yourself and your team, the decisions you make on technology and partners, and how you communicate effectively across disciplines and functions.”
Making privacy your differentiator
Privacy starts and ends with people, so it pays for marketers to take the time to train themselves and their teams to encourage and facilitate healthy discussions around data privacy.
As marketers, there’s a tendency to rely on tried and trusted media and marketing trade content, shows, webinars and events to keep up with what’s happening in the privacy space at a broad level. Sure, that’s important, but expanding horizons outside the advertising realm to understand why these changes are happening and the mechanics of why regulation has been developed, applied and enforced, gives marketers a unique perspective and advantage to filter up, down and across the wider organization.
This is something that happens far too infrequently, says Taylor. Flipping his own training focus to learn the foundations of data privacy and regulatory changes has helped him understand the world a lot better, beyond the nuances of changes impacted by privacy.
The bridge between two worlds
Marketers with similar tact will be in a much stronger position to bridge the gap between the complicated worlds of ad technology and ads privacy for the benefit of their business.
“It has given me a much better understanding of all the different stakeholders sitting across the table from me and their needs so that I can anticipate the different questions they are going to ask,” he says. “By understanding the bigger picture around data protection guidelines, obligations and risks, I’m able to frame my responses in a different way to better support our customers.”
Upskilling techniques can come in various forms. Changing the reading literature is one step, but Taylor also recommends joining professional networks such as the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) as a key resource. There are also online training platforms, courses, partnerships and outside counsel – including free-to-access content from privacy law specialists – for marketers to explore the most worthwhile investment to suit any budget. Even small steps can make all the difference – personally, professionally and commercially.
Taylor goes on to explain: “We tend to see a lot of examples of marketers and their partners attempting to solve technical challenges arising from privacy changes, but sometimes, taking a step back to understand the context in which these changes are happening, is just as important.”
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Filling the privacy gaps
By understanding the societal and regulatory landscape leading to changes in advertising technology, marketing teams can go into conversations equipped with the right knowledge to help the business deal with these changes. Not every marketer needs to be data protection officer standard, but having a baseline level of knowledge will be key to unlocking success.
Filling this knowledge gap allows marketers to identify missing skillsets or gaps within the team that could be filled by new hires or restructuring to ensure closer alignment with existing teams who have what they need.
“By bringing privacy expertise closer to marketing technology decision-making, we’ve seen customers advance in their privacy-preserving technology roadmap much faster,” says Taylor.
As privacy regulations develop to give consumers more control of their data, multiple technology changes are happening too, adding more complexity to the job of the marketer to maintain performance and drive campaign success.
“True media effectiveness goes hand in hand with privacy and key to this will be looking for future-proof, durable options and products that can help fill those gaps,” says Taylor. “There needs to be a willingness to test new methods of targeting and measurement.”
Marketers should lean on partners and vendors that can build and adapt privacy-preserving technology, such as Enhanced Conversions and Consent Mode, which have longevity and a good privacy pedigree to show the full picture of how they can help meet data principles.
There should be a clear path for the marketing team to address privacy in decision-making. That starts with the user and being able to ask the right questions on their behalf: for example, is this what they expect, is it clear and concise? Then for the technology itself, does the tech offer features and options to limit data collection or similar? And finally, consider who the ultimate decision maker is and in what capacity do they need to understand the details.
A ‘one-team’ approach
The final piece of the privacy puzzle is communication. “When marketers aren’t able to reframe the problem or solution back to their privacy counsel or legal team in a way they understand, this is the part where communication may break down,” says Taylor.
Protecting your consumers’ privacy goes beyond the marketing and legal departments. Privacy isn’t a tick-box exercise. For it to be comprehensive, trustworthy and effective, it must be embedded into the organization from the top down.
“All decisions should start with the business impact a platform, feature or partner would make and then discussions can be framed around that,” explains Taylor. “Going into different conversations with key stakeholders with that understanding of what different roles and departments are really thinking about or concerned about is much more effective when you have that knowledge. Own what you know and consult when you have gaps.”
By making privacy a core competency and not just a specialist subject, marketers can see all aspects of privacy through a clearer lens. It’s not just a compliance issue, it requires a cross-functional, one-team approach to lead to better outcomes for everyone. Marketers, now is the time to upskill and outperform, making privacy your competitive differentiator.
For more insights and advice on responsible marketing in a privacy-first world, visit The Responsible Marketing Hub with Google.
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Google is committed to helping businesses thrive in a privacy-first world. The technology giant works with thousands of businesses and agencies to help them prepare for a future without third party cookies. Using privacy-preserving technologies, built on machine learning and automation, it can fill reporting gaps and understand people’s needs in a privacy-centric way.Find out more