online privacy

How Advertisers Can Tackle Consumer Data Privacy and Protection

By this point in time, all platforms, publishers, brand marketers, and advertisers should understand why consumer data privacy is paramount. For a single company to possess the personal information of millions of consumers is an incredible responsibility. Data must be kept private not only to protect customers’ identities and avoid the unnecessary risk and exposure of sensitive information making its way into the wrong hands, but also to protect the reputation of the company. 

We are also at an inflection point. Consumers are more savvy and tuned into the types of data they’re comfortable sharing, and with whom. In a pandemic and at a time when sentiments are rapidly shifting, consumers want to trust the companies with which they’re choosing to do business. That means feeling protected and being served relevant information.

Smart business professionals understand that. Top global consumer brands, like Apple, for instance, are going the extra mile to show consumers that they consider data privacy a core value. Google is also rolling out privacy-oriented features and policies

Industry professionals realize that the tech industry will be more focused on privacy going forward. Yet Ad-supported content is not going anywhere; in fact, it’s only increasing in volume, indicating that the industry must find a productive way to strike an appropriate balance between privacy and targeting. 

But is what we’ve done to date enough? What should come next?

Understanding the regulatory frameworks

Regulatory frameworks like the CCPA and GDPR are a positive step forward in the Internet industry’s quest to embrace user privacy. However, navigating each new consumer privacy law is no easy feat for businesses, and damages can stack up quickly. The CCPA, for instance, stipulates a civil penalty of up to $2,500 for each violation and up to $7,500 for each intentional violation. If a company fails to be vigilant ‚— even if unintentional — the smallest of mishaps can mean big dollars lost, and quickly.

This leaves platforms and publishers, along with brand marketers and advertisers, with the hard challenge of deciphering the compliance requirements and acting accordingly. For example, the GDPR requires advertisers to obtain “informed consent”; the CCPA focuses more on consumers’ ability to opt out. As new privacy laws continue to pop up, with them come new challenges for marketers and advertisers. 

With that said, the world would not benefit from opting out of advertising all together. It would not be tenable for either companies or consumers, who expect relevant and diverse content offerings. In the months ahead, the advertising industry will continue to face a delicate balance between the rising demands of privacy-conscious consumers and the financial requirements of developers and ad-supported platforms and media companies.

What comes next?

Regulatory frameworks work by putting more power in the hands of consumers. They help them to maintain better control over if, and what kind, of personal information a company can collect and utilize. Given that, future data sharing should be transparent and transactional. Trust is the new form of currency. 

The platforms and publishers that fare well in this privacy-forward era will be the ones that clearly and authentically articulate if, how, and why they will be collecting certain data from users. It’s not as though, overnight, consumers collectively have become unwilling to share anything personal with the companies they choose to interact and do business with; consumers just want to understand the ins and outs. 

When platforms and publishers take the time to offer a candid perspective on why data collection is necessary, and how it will benefit the consumers down the road, they build trust with their audience. Consumers will be more likely to willingly share, and they’ll be more likely to return for future business. 

So, what is the future of data protection? According to Gartner, by 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal information covered under modern privacy regulations, up from 10% in January 2020. In terms of how we get there, what we do know is this: It all ties back to bridging the trust gap between consumers and businesses. 

Now is the time to build ethical data-use frameworks, to proactively include privacy advocates in future business plannings, and to find creative ways to show consumers that any data collected and shared is ultimately being used to better their own, future experiences with the brand in question. At the end of the day, marketers and advertisers are working hard to create connections with their target consumers. No privacy law will change that; it will just make those experiences more meaningful.

Navdeep Saini is co-founder and CEO of DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV.

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