The Shifting Paradigm of Data Privacy: What You Need to Know
You’ve read the press releases, you’ve seen the full page ads, but as we slowly progress through this dynamic new year you’re probably still asking yourself: what’s actually happening with the future of data privacy? To put it mildly: a lot.
Not like you needed an extra thing to feel anxious about in 2021, right? With the impending updates to iOS14 in the early spring and Google killing the third-party cookie that will restrict the amount and type of user information that can be collected, digital targeting is set to become very complicated.
For advertisers, this means that the granularity you’re used to is going away. With decreased targeting capabilities, you’ll need to reframe your positioning and creative approach to appeal to a wider audience while still driving action. Upper-funnel targeting will become far more important because you’re unlikely to know whether you’re reaching someone for the first time, or the fiftieth.
Not sure what to do about it? You’re not alone. Let us break down how you can still run high-performing video campaigns (and learn about your audience) while staying privacy compliant.
Data Privacy Changes: The Facts
Apple Makes Waves
First—here’s what’s happening. Apple is changing the digital ad game in “early spring” when its iOS14 update will require the world’s 900 million iPhone users to opt-in to sharing data. Their feature, called App Tracking Transparency, will require user authorization before any app can collect data that is then shared with other companies for purposes of tracking across apps and websites. In past versions of iOS, users had to manually opt-out of data tracking and sharing, but this new feature will make opting-in the default.
What this means is that whenever someone uses an app on iOS14, they will have to give the developer express permission to access their IDFA, or Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers. What the IDFA does is track a user’s activity across different apps on a person’s iPhone. If, for example, an Instagram ad compels a user to click on a video to visit a brand’s eComm store, the IDFA will keep track of that user’s data so marketers can better target the user for future engagement on a different platform.
A precursor to these privacy changes came in an earlier version of iOS14. At the end of 2020, Apple released the Privacy Nutrition Label that shows users what data is tracked by an app before they hit download. As they stated in early 2021, “Every product page on the App Store includes standardized, easy-to-read information based on the developer’s self-reported data practices. The privacy nutrition labels give users key information about how an app uses their data — including whether the data is used to track them, linked to them, or not linked to them.”
The Great Data Privacy Debate of 2021
These changes have fueled the beef to end all beefs between Facebook and Apple. When Apple launched its Privacy Nutrition Label, it made available a detailed list of every datapoint that an app tracks. And as Mashable pointed out, Facebook has a “comically long” list of data it collects. It’s eye opening to say the least.
During a presentation at a conference for data privacy, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “if we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated and sold, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human.” Cook’s statement can be interpreted as hyperbolic fighting words, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Apple wants to make data protection an inalienable right. Ultimately, users should have the freedom to choose whether or not they give out their personal data.
But it could have unintended consequences, especially for small business owners, which is how Facebook has framed its resistance to Apple’s changes. Mark Zuckerberg took out a series of full page ads in major newspapers to express his frustration and explain Facebook’s opposition. At the core of his argument is that by decreasing Facebook’s ability to collect data about its users, small businesses will have a harder time reaching new consumers. They claim that “the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.”
While Facebook has led the charge against iOS14’s privacy opt-in clause, it’s good to note that not all social channels, like Twitter, feel this change will greatly affect how ads on their platforms operate. It should also be noted that, since iOS14 is an operating system exclusive to Apple products, Android phones and tablets will not be affected by this change. That’s great news when you consider that of the 5 billion mobile users worldwide, 75% of them are on an Android phone. And it seems more and more ad spend dollars are shifting over to the Android market.
Google Says Buh-Bye to the Third-Party Cookie
These iOS14 changes will dramatically impact how advertisers target mobile users, but Google’s parallel phase out of third-party cookies on Chrome will cause a major shift in tracking anyone who uses the browser on both mobile and desktop. If first-party cookies are codes that track a user when they visit one website, a third-party cookie is a code set by a separate domain that tracks a user across multiple websites. This collected data gives marketers a robust user persona so brands can target potential consumers with advertisements based on their wants and needs.
Popular web browsers like Safari and Firefox have already blocked the third-party cookie, but Chrome accounts for more than half of all global web traffic. When Google’s changes go into full effect by 2022, the seismic impact of the third-party cookies demise will be profoundly felt across the internet.
What does all this mean for your brand? Well, it’s going to be a lot harder for marketers to target and track specific audiences across most devices and platforms. Brands that rely on a single platform today will need to diversify to stay ahead of the turning tide of data privacy. But as the old saying goes, in the midst of every challenge exists opportunity.
Data Privacy Challenges = Marketing Opportunities
With restricted access to data, agile marketers will need to wade through murky digital waters to find their target audiences. But you can find clarity in this storm of changes by refocusing your efforts on performance marketing. The key to the future of harnessing data about your audience will be dictated by creative testing.
First, prioritize platform diversification. Since you won’t know exactly what apps or websites your target audience interacts with, prepare to cast a wider net to meet potential audiences wherever they exist.
Some users are platform-loyal, but the vast majority of consumers are scattered across a number of platforms. Lean on demographic learnings from the years before these privacy changes to retain a general idea of what audiences exist on which platforms. As we gain more insights over the coming year into the new normal of audience targeting, this archival data will be important as the advertising industry adjusts to this tracking transition.
More important than platform diversification, though, will be the need to create and launch multiple versions of your ads–especially video–to simultaneously test different variables, like value props. Creative testing will quickly surface what works with the audience you’re aiming to reach.
With granular tracking and conversion reporting disappearing soon, creative testing can methodically reveal key audience behavior trends. As you methodically test iterative creatives, you home in on the variables that resonate most with your target audiences.
Harvesting Data with a Multivariate Creative Testing Plan
You can support your creative experimentation by launching a multivariate testing plan. This strategic approach turns trial and error into methodical assessment, zeroing-in on the creative variables that work best for your brand.
- Start by identifying your goals and collecting any historical learning you have. Having a robust understanding of your brand’s historical performance ensures that you’re not starting from scratch when structuring your testing plan.
- You want to then identify several concepts and creative attributes that you’ll methodically test. You’ll use these concepts to build an exhaustive shot list so you can capture all the necessary footage in one shoot.
- After your shoot, edit together your first set of creatives and launch your campaign. Test broadly so you can identify the creative variables that resonate the most with your target audience, and iterate on them. This will help you optimize your current campaign, and provide audience learnings to carry into your next one.
If this all sounds expensive, it really doesn’t have to be. At QuickFrame, we strategically plan out a testing approach, so you learn who your customer is and what motivates them based on the creative variables that perform best. We do this for every platform and without blowing your budget.
With thorough pre-production planning and a clear testing strategy, you can maximize your budget and generate dozens of platform- and placement-specific iterative video assets in a matter of weeks. That’s right: you can generate strong campaign performance and collect valuable customer insights, all in a privacy-friendly way.
The Shifting Paradigm of Data Privacy: The Takeaway
Frankly, everything you’ve read about the impending data privacy updates is conjecture. While sensational headlines like “the death of the third party cookie” or Apple “killing” the IDFA grabs our attention, the doom-and-gloom that’s being preached really isn’t all that doomy or gloomy. Cookies and the Identifier for Advertisers aren’t going away; platforms are just offering users far more transparency on what happens to their data than ever before.
Most importantly for marketers, targeting opportunities will still exist. It’s just now consumers must choose to be targetable, rather than not.
The truth is that we don’t really know how this will affect consumer behavior. Trust us, it will create a ripple effect across the digital sphere, but to what extent is yet to be determined.
Will opting-in become synonymous with reading through the terms and conditions of a product; something we know we should read in full, but mindlessly agree to so that we can get to enjoying the product faster? Consumers may see retargeting ads tailored to their interests to be invasive, but what will happen to their buying habits when they have to seek out new products rather than those new products coming directly to them?
These changes will likely make the highly saturated content landscape of social media even more competitive, so marketers will need to think strategically to break through the noise and make a mark. As we navigate the new normal of data privacy, go all-in on creative testing. It’s set to be the privacy friendly solution to serving up audience-specific content that will make the greatest impact on your audience.
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