Skip to Content

How people think about their data and privacy has fundamentally changed. We’ve seen significant shifts happen in our industry because people have lost trust in how some businesses use their data.  

And it’s more than just a reaction to the latest privacy breach. People are trying to take back control of their personal information.

1473 Inline

Search interest in the U.S. for “my activity,” where people can manage information like their search and browsing history that’s saved to their Google Account has increased sixfold since 2016.1 And in the last four weeks alone, more than 160 million people have gone into their Google Accounts to review and adjust their privacy settings, which include the types of data Google can collect and the kinds of ads Google shows them.2

We’ve already seen strong government reaction to consumer concerns. The General Data Protection Regulation, also known as GDPR, has significantly impacted how the personal data of European users can be collected and used. Regulation is also heating up in the U.S., with legislation being considered at both the national and state levels, and the passage of a new privacy law in California.

We’ve seen technology platforms respond too. Apple’s Safari browser updated its intelligent tracking prevention, known as ITP 2.0, to block third-party cookies. And Mozilla’s Firefox browser now comes with enhanced tracking protection, which also has the capability to block third-party cookies.

Those browser changes have already had an impact on digital marketing.

  • Ads personalization is now limited. Cookies are often used to show ads to people based on websites they’ve visited. Efforts to block these cookies limit the ability to deliver personalized ads to visitors from these browsers.
  • Conversions are being underreported. Since view-through and cross-device conversions can’t be counted when cookies are blocked, our advertising partners have told us that their reporting has become less reliable, especially for campaigns that measure value using view-throughs.
  • Measurement methods are under pressure. Brand-lift surveys, holdback tests, and attribution models that rely on third-party cookies are less accurate when cookies are blocked.

Make no mistake — this is only the beginning. The pace and impact of changes to the digital ads ecosystem will only intensify as regulators, policymakers, platform owners, and users alike take more of an interest in online privacy.

Forward-thinking marketers understand that online privacy concerns are real, and they have been preparing all along.

Forward-thinking marketers understand that online privacy concerns are real, and they have been preparing all along. These marketers strive for growth, but not at the cost of consumer trust. Instead, they invest in ways to protect and strengthen their relationships with customers, ultimately creating brands that will endure. These marketers realize that responsible marketing is more important than ever because the expectations for privacy are higher than ever.

L’Oreal is one example of a brand that takes its responsibility for customer data seriously. While L’Oreal has traditionally sold its products through retailers, the shift to digital completely changed the way people shopped. So the company knew it needed a thoughtful approach to handling consumer data.

L’Oreal Chief Digital Officer Lubomira Rochet, who also sits on the company’s global executive committee, is charged with integrating digital into all leadership discussions. In her role, Rochet has been preparing L’Oreal for the privacy changes that are happening now — investing in a responsible data strategy that includes first-party measurement tools and cloud technology. L’Oreal was one of the first consumer brands to test Ads Data Hub, a cloud-based solution that encrypts consumer data by default, and allows L’Oreal to conduct analyses and identify user insights in an anonymized and privacy-safe way.

If you aren’t already following in the footsteps of companies like L’Oreal, you should start now. Speak with your team about how to navigate this shift.

You’ll need to focus on being:

  • Transparent about what data you collect. Ask for clear consent and give people real choices in the types of experiences they can have with your brand depending on their privacy needs.
  • Thoughtful about how that data is collected. Invest in a direct way to measure your interactions with users. Here, cookies are set only if visitors have had direct contact with your website.
  • Privacy-safe when managing customer data. This will likely mean investing in cloud technology, which has built-in security capabilities like data encryption.

And work with partners who recognize the scale and impact of the changes underway. Ask how they’re planning to respond to these changes, and how they’re ensuring data is protected and used appropriately.

It’s no doubt a challenging time, and you’ll need to review your policies and practices to make sure they align with expectations for online privacy. But even in the face of all this change, we should recognize what a significant opportunity this represents. By working together to protect user privacy, we’ll be able to deliver great marketing that drives results and builds trust.