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How marketers can navigate advertising in a privacy-first world

According to the report by MMA on data privacy, 60% of marketers in India had little or no integration of their 1st party and 3rd party data with limited employee access

At a time when big tech companies like Apple and Google are being pushed to prioritise the consumer’s privacy and governments are looking to regulate social media platforms, it is important for advertisers to understand the importance of cookie-less marketing.

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MMA- a marketing trade association that has 800 members from across the world, has released a detailed study called ‘Data protection and personalisation in a privacy-first world’- A marketer's guide on future-proofing data.

The report says that marketers need to put more effort into educating consumers about data usage and tracking. It says they need to find ways to ensure that privacy is not a hindrance to providing better products and services to the consumers. Rather, how a privacy-first approach to data can facilitate consumer trust in the brand.

The report further has points of view about privacy from leading marketing and data companies.

According to Snehi Mehta- Head of Marketing, India at Meta, “Personalised advertising is at the heart of the digital advertising ecosystem, which drives the digital economy and is consequential to the overall economic growth.”

“This makes it imperative for businesses, small and large, to find a fine balance between the evolving regulatory frameworks, shifting customer expectations, and the existing and new avenues of growth. If businesses can’t evolve to meet this moment, people may face a very different digital world, dominated by less personalised ads-creating a poor experience for them and increasing costs for advertisers. This stands to have a large economic impact too.”

She further spoke about how Meta is helping advertisers navigate this situation. She said they are making major investments across ad systems,  including building some of the most advanced infrastructure in the industry: conversion modelling techniques and privacy-enhancing technologies.

“Through these investments, our aspiration is to enable businesses to succeed on our platform while people don’t feel that an ad is intrusive or suspicious. We call this Performance on People’s Terms and while it’s a phrase we’ve recently introduced, it’s a philosophy that still guides us, and it remains at the heart of what we're building for even as the industry shifts.”

In order to help advertisers measure their campaigns, they have also launched two new solutions called, ‘Post conversion optimisation’ and ‘Outcome-driven ad experience’.

Talking about Accenture’s approach to privacy, Vineet R Ahuja, Managing Director, Strategy and Consulting, Accenture India and an MMA India member said, “ Accenture research shows that while a vast majority of consumers are willing to pay a premium for personalization, only one in three brands can offer an individualized offering or messaging. On the other hand, sensitivities around consumer data privacy are at an all-time high due to increasing consumer awareness, stringent regulations, and initiatives by technology platforms.”

“Up until now, marketers have utilised cookie-based measurement to optimise their spending and personalise online experiences. But third-party cookies are poised to disappear. The impact of the cookie-less future could be in the loss of signals. And this loss of signals makes an already tough job tougher. The transition to the cookie-less future coincides with and further adds complexities to another profound change that markets are already struggling with - the shift in consumer behaviours caused by the pandemic.”

He further said marketers, in order to reach consumers, should be differentiated, and move closer to the end consumer through differentiated brand proposition with responsible data handling, building relevant capabilities and reimagining their data strategy.

The study further says advertisers are still heavily reliant on third-party data. It says with the impending death of cookies and new privacy-led initiatives, walled gardens like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon will continue to further impose their dominance on the online advertising ecosystem.

India and privacy

The report says that people in India too are wanting to feel safe about sharing their information. However, there is no one-size- that fits all for building privacy and safe experiences for consumers. MMA’s India chapter along with EY received inputs from over 150 marketers from categories like retail, finance, automobile, media, healthcare, education, and other sectors in the Indian market.

According to the report’s findings, 89% of respondents believed they had policies and processes to safeguard consumer data. 58% had defined ownership and management strategies for 1P consumer data, 60% had little or no integration of their 1st party and 3rd party data with limited employee access and 24% had cross-fishing rules defined for sharing of consumer data between brands.

According to Rohit Tikmany, Head of Product and Growth at Voot, their offerings outside India appeal to a sizeable but niche group of South Asians. “Such niche markets demand that we go back to the basics of marketing with data modelling, incrementality testing, direct bid optimisation, and creative testing to make sure we are interacting and communicating meaningfully with our users.”

“We’ve retooled our marketing stack to provide a privacy-safe experience for users across markets. Given this, and growing digital privacy awareness, we've retooled our marketing stack to provide a privacy-safe experience for these markets. This includes our own server-side privacy-compliant identification resolution system, integrated identifiers across devices to create a unified view of the data, and a tokenization system,” he said.

Smita Salgaonkar, Country Head, Media. Monks said businesses must invest in tailored solutions for customer data management.  “Businesses consider mobile phone numbers and email addresses as reliable customer identifiers. Historically, such identifiers have been stored in open files and shared for email and SMS activation with minimal guardrails. As more Indians become digitally connected and privacy woke, there will be higher expectations of customer outreach and data management being safe and responsible. Early investment will help ensure business continuity with minimal impact,” she added.

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