Privacy and personalisation: A delicate and essential balancing act

dentsu

Marketers, let’s put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes and think about a key question that more and more users are asking: 

“Is this company using my data in a responsible, safe way that will bring me value?”

There are a few key things to pull out here. Responsible and safe data processing, combined with valuable interactions with brands. For many consumers in 2021, this is an essential requirement. The more they understand why you need their data and how it will be used, the more they will be willing to share their information.

So, the big question we’re all facing is how we can navigate the changing privacy landscape whilst still delighting our customers.

CMOs and uncertainty

In the dentsu 2020 CMO report: Into the Unknown we noted that CMOs are now reclaiming the strategic marketing agenda and having an increasingly vital role to play across the C-Suite in driving their organisations forward. After many years of marketing’s role being denuded in many brands, CMOs are now in pole position to lead their brands to a period of recovery and growth by focusing on the total customer experience.

The total customer experience is key, and this is where uncertainty plays its part. Since March 2020 we’ve seen consumer behaviour change. The pandemic has caused numerous gravitational shifts and it’s the increasingly difficult job of CMOs to navigate these waters and respond to changing behaviours. In fact, the number one challenge for CMOs in 2021 is defining which of these behaviours are temporary shifts and which are permanent changes[1].

Which brings us to the notion of privacy and how this impacts the customer experience. And it’s safe to say this one is a permanent fixture not just for CMOs, but for entire organisations.

Privacy and customer experience

According to Deloitte:

“Empowered by social networks and their digital devices, consumers are increasingly dictating what they want, when and where they want it. They have become both critics and creators, demanding a more personalised service and expecting to be given the opportunity to shape the products and services they consume.”

In fact, over 50% of consumers want more personalised experiences in a range of categories including hotels, flights and furniture shopping[2]. And this demand is only now increasing due to the pandemic accelerating the trajectory of consumer behaviour[3].

Privacy plays a huge role here too. When consumers want to shape the products and services they consume, yes they want personalisation, but they also want privacy. Specifically, they want control over the way their data is collected and used. We’ve already seen 81% of consumers taking some action due to data privacy in the last 12 months, with 40% deleting an app and 43% deleting their browser history[4].

This is the first challenge for CMOs. The second comes from the impending cookie-less world.

Privacy and industry evolution

Here’s a quick overview of the changes that have happened and are set to happen soon when it comes to cookies:

  • Safari: After ITP 2.0 – 2.3 first-party cookies are deleted after 24 hours, whereas third-party cookies aren’t allowed at all.
  • Firefox: Third-party cookies have been blocked since July 2019, with first-party also facing similar restrictions.
  • Google Chrome: Third-party cookies will be phased out and blocked by 2022.

We’ve known for a long time that these changes were coming. The first thing to note is that they improve privacy standards across the industry which of course is welcomed. However, this does continue to drive the fragmentation in the standards on how data is used in advertising and creates inextricable links between standards and large digital platforms.

This can have the knock-on effect of reducing the choice in how data gets applied to your business, especially where the open web outside of the digital platform is important. It’s clear that independent advertising platforms with access to consented and compliant data are going to become more important.

Brands are all facing questions around measurement, audiences and user experience. Read more about how to navigate the cookie-less world in 2021.

A delicate balancing act: across an entire organisation

To balance both privacy and personalisation, the role of CMOs in influencing the C-Suite is becoming increasingly important.

From the analysis in the 2020 CMO Report, we can see that this is now marketing’s moment. CMOs are once again focusing on the 5 Ps of marketing: price, product, place, promotion and now purpose – and this extends across their entire organisation.

Any change in approach towards data collection and usage will have an impact on all areas of a business, whether product development or analytics for example. The entire organisation needs to be united around a common vision and the steps required to realise it. This starts from the C-Suite in establishing a mindset that embeds privacy into business decision making at all levels of the organisation.

Privacy practitioners must be involved in product development, guidelines must be developed to help teams navigate the new changes and any vendors and partners must also be on board, continuing to ensure that privacy is an essential tenet of company culture is essential.

Step forward CMOs

With the right changes throughout an organisation, data can be used in a safe and responsible way whilst still offering your customers the value they crave.

Change is required, and CMOs continue to be at the heart of innovation, evolution and transformation.


[1] Into the Unknown: 2020 dentsu CMO Survey

[2] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ch/Documents/consumer-business/ch-en-consumer-business-made-to-order-consumer-review.pdf

[3] https://econsultancy.com/the-role-of-personalisation-in-customer-loyalty-post-covid/

[4] https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/dicing-with-data-proportion-of-consumers-very-concerned-over-sharing-data-online-halves-in-two-years.html