Who’s Afraid of CCPA? Steps Toward Ethical Data Collection

With the CCPA and other new data regulations popping onto the scene, there has been a bit of commotion in the marketing and advertising industry. Many professionals are reporting that they are scrambling to meet the new data demands. This should not be the case. In fact, if you’re scared of the CCPA, you’re doing something wrong. 

The marketing and advertising communities are inherently about data collection. They survey and track people’s online behaviors to uncover a deeper understanding of trending sentiments. Through this, the ultimate goal is to help marketers better target the right audiences with messaging that will resonate with them on the platforms they typically frequent. 

While data privacy should be a given considering how central it is to the industries at hand, it’s often still seen as a challenge to overcome. So, where is the problem?

A new convergence

My professional background lives at the convergence of market research and advertising. For market researchers, data privacy is common practice. Market researchers bypass collecting personally identifiable information by accruing aggregated answers to important questions, whether through specific demographics or other groupings.

For the advertising and marketing communities, however, it becomes a bit more muddled. The digital world has made it possible for advertisers and marketers to track any person for any online action taken. 

Now, an auspicious convergence between market research and marketing is taking place. 

Market researchers are more commonly partnering with traditional advertisers and marketers to help brands uncover deeper customer sentiments and trends that may be impacting the customer buying landscape. Provided with that holistic view, today’s marketers are able to make smarter and more impactful decisions. They have better actionable insights at their disposal to understand what it will take for their campaigns to really resonate as well as how to pivot if needed.

As true with any industry, however, when professionals strive to get smarter, there’s bound to be a learning curve. The problem boils down to choice and transparency. 

How to leverage consumer info ethically

When the digital — and now increasingly cookieless — era makes the sky seemingly the limit for brand advertisers and marketers, how can they effectively provide choice and transparency to consumers while still accruing the necessary information to appropriately target their campaigns?

To be successful, marketers and advertisers need to think carefully about what data they need to collect, why they are collecting it, how they are using it, with whom they are sharing it, and how long they need to keep it. 

I mentioned the “cookieless” future. It’s nothing to fear. The downfall of third-party data is not the downfall of marketers. There is, however, a need for reinvention. Let the death of the cookie put pressure on today’s marketers to develop better first-party acquisition channels. Reach out to market researchers — industry professionals who have considered this to be second nature for decades at this point. Learn from them. Draw from their data collection methods.

Most importantly, tune into your target customers. Help them understand why you want to collect the data that you’re after. Explain why it’s better to target their wants and needs, that this is a two-way street, and data collection is used to understand what makes them tick and if there is the appropriate synergy between them and your brand.

Marketers can, and will, benefit from higher privacy standards. At some point, though, we need to stop with the buzzwords and understand that being “privacy-forward” boils down to one action item: Be transparent with consumers.

Brett Schnittlich is president of Lucid.

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