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Brand Strategy Data & Privacy Data

The 3 universal truths of personalization in a privacy-first world

By Julia Wold, Director of operations



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November 18, 2022 | 8 min read

For The Drum's Deep Dive into Data & Privacy, Julia Wold of Coegi goes back to three basics of personalization: transparency, relevance and compliance.

A butterfly

Personalization is as important as ever - but do the rules remain the same? / Håkon Grimstad via Unsplash

Last night, I saw a streaming TV ad for my local Chicago news station. Except I don’t live in Chicago; I reside 400 miles away in the Twin Cities. As someone who makes her living in digital media buying, I felt that cringe moment. Someone, somewhere, screwed up. Marketing dollars aren’t endless, and as a marketer, I pride myself on being a good steward of my client’s media budgets.

While data on my geographic location might not feel invasive, it’s one of the many touch points available for consumer targeting. But this data-based performance is only as strong as its data-based audience inputs.

This is why it’s critical to consider the three universal truths of personalization when planning and executing campaigns: transparency, relevance, and compliance. All three are required to achieve results and maintain (or improve) consumer trust.

Privacy concerns are high; trust is low

In the digital era, data-based decision-making allows for the personalized approach we’ve all come to expect. 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when offered a more personalized experience. However, concerns about privacy are seeping into our lexicon. Google Trends data puts search interest for “data privacy” at an all-time high.

This is fueled by sub-topics such as GDPR, CCPA, Apple ID, and artificial intelligence. According to a 2021 study by KPMG Advisory of 2,000 US adults, “86% said that data privacy was a growing concern and 40% don’t trust companies to use their data ethically.”

Meanwhile, a Cisco 2021 Consumer Privacy Study found that 76% of respondents cited a lack of transparency as the number one reason consumer trust was broken.

It’s important for both marketers and consumers to understand the delicate balance between privacy and personalization. So, how do you do that? It comes back to those three universal truths of personalization:

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1. Transparency

Transparency has to do with explicit language relating to data collection methodology. Agencies aren't usually in the business of collecting data directly, but we are in the business of harnessing data for consumer engagement and we need to do that as responsibly as we can. This means vetting partners for ethical data collection, and only working with vendors that live up to those standards.

At Coegi, our employees echo these sentiments. One of my colleagues stated, “privacy means effective and mindful data collection and management… As a marketer, I know that it's important that the data I am accessing is handled responsibly.”

Transparency means being honest with clients about operating practices and living up to a strong code of advertising ethics. As we move into an age with increasing data privacy regulations, this will become more important than ever.

2. Relevance

When considering a media strategy, lean into a targeted approach to meet not only clients’ expectations but also consumers’.

Personalization is not who we are going to target, but how. We’re not looking for a 1:1 message. Rather, it’s about knowing through persona-based research how to best engage with a target set through a deep understanding of segments’ interests, demographics, and behaviors.

Personalization can happen based on context, channels, and messaging formats. Comparing multiple research sources, and testing multiple methods of personalization, allows brands to understand which approach resonates with key consumers.

3. Compliance

When onboarding clients' first-party data sets, it’s imperative to not handle personally identifiable information (PII). Instead, deploy encrypted data through a neutral infrastructure, like LiveRamp, directly to individual advertiser accounts. This avoids the risk of information falling into the wrong person’s hands. Compliance is key from not only a data collection standpoint, but also when it comes to who has access to that data.

This topic is top of mind for our agency; it’s one of the main areas of focus for Coegi’s data and technology director, Jake Amann. “We are working on compliance now because it's the future… companies of all sizes are thinking about data privacy at the forefront. Actually understanding and implementing best practices in terms of data collection and usage principles can be difficult and requires a lot of work. But, it's an extremely important need with the rise of a digital-first ecosystem”. In this era, it’s essential to practice what you preach to maintain internal and external integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

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Balancing personalization and privacy is the responsibility of all marketers regardless, of specialty or tenure. Stay informed on policy changes, understand ethical boundaries, and be smart about the data providers you partner with. After all, no marketer wants to make the mistake of running a mistargeted campaign. Hold yourself to the golden rules of data: treat consumers’ data as you would want yours to be treated.

For more on how the world of data-driven advertising and marketing is evolving, check out our latest Deep Dive.

Brand Strategy Data & Privacy Data

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