The U.S. is on the cusp of implementing a new national privacy law, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA). And while we may be late to the party (the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was implemented in 2018), it’s now high time for businesses to start paying attention to data and how it impacts consumer privacy.
The new law will have significant implications for marketers, who will need to ensure they are handling consumer data in a responsible and transparent manner. Consumers, for their part, are more invested in maintaining control of their data and reluctant to exchange personal information (even for incentives) unless they trust that you’re being careful with their data. Nearly three-quarters of consumers rank data privacy as a top value, a recent report by MAGNA Media Trials and Ketch found.
In this post we’ll cover:
- What is privacy in marketing?
- Why marketers should care.
- How important is privacy to consumers?
- The four types of consumer data.
- Privacy initiatives marketers should know about.
- Privacy-enhancing technologies.
- What does this mean for marketers?
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
What is privacy in marketing?
Privacy in marketing is all about data — specifically, an individual’s personal, identifiable or aggregate data and how companies collect it, use it, share it and forget it. The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) defines privacy as, “the right to be left alone.”
From a data privacy perspective, that means individuals have the right:
- To understand how their data is being used.
- To control who has access to it.
- To tell a company to stop using it.
- To have it deleted if they want.
Privacy is not an all-or-nothing proposition. There are different levels of sensitivity when it comes to the types of data companies collect. For example, a consumer’s name and email address are not as sensitive as their health data (although with the implementation of ADPPA, that could change.)
Why marketers should care
We can’t have all the shiny new marketing things — omnichannel experiences, customer centricity, personalization — without consumer data. But with big data comes big responsibility.
It may have taken consumers and especially U.S. consumers, a long time to become educated about the fact that brands engaged in granular tracking of online behavior, using the data gathered for marketing purposes or even selling it.
Ironically, U.S. brands were forced to take privacy seriously by European legislation (GDPR) because the worldwide reach of the internet meant brands could hardly guarantee to avoid engagement with European data subjects. The new horizon, however, is not just complying with applicable privacy laws — it’s being proactive about consumer privacy to build trust, establish community and secure loyalty.
How important is privacy to consumers?
Consumers care about privacy a lot, according to the MAGNA and Ketch survey, but this doesn’t mean they’re as focused on privacy compliance laws as, say, the entire digital marketing industry.
90% of survey respondents had never heard of the Virginia Consumer Privacy Data Protection Act (VCDPA). But while people may not be closely following government-imposed privacy regulations — or how businesses comply with them — they’re paying attention to companies who get flagged for poor privacy practices.
Even if consumers don’t know the acronyms as well as we do, they’re concerned about how businesses handle their data, with just 5% having no major concerns.
Here are some top concerns, according to a recent survey by Tinuiti:
- More than 50% of consumers agree that there’s no such thing as online privacy.
- Roughly 40% to 50% (depending on age) of people think their mobile phones are listening to them.
- 70% of consumers don’t like receiving targeted ads as a trade-off for providing their information.
- Over 40% of consumers are very worried about criminals gaining access to their data.
While it’s true that consumers are more aware of how companies use their data and have some concerns, they’re still mostly in the dark when it comes to a business’s privacy practices — which makes them suspicious. Nearly 60% of consumers in a recent BCG/Google survey think companies are selling their data even though the reality is that most companies don’t do this.
Marketers need to do a better job of educating consumers about how we use their data and what we do to protect it. We also need to be more transparent about how we use consumer data to personalize ex