As Privacy Policies Tighten, What’s Next For Marketing?

In many ways, developing an effective marketing strategy is a balancing act between collecting useful and detailed information and respecting customers’ privacy. With the advent of stricter privacy policies and even laws, marketers need to be aware of the options currently available and their implications.  


One of the biggest privacy-related shifts in the marketing industry has been the movement away from third-party cookies. Within the next couple of years, the option to use cookies to track website visitors across sites will no longer be an option for advertisers. First-party cookies, which allow tracking within a given site, will still be available, but marketers will also need to create more flexible strategies. 


Just how important is privacy to users these days? One study by the Pew Research Center found that “72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits.”1 While it’s tempting for marketers to look at these privacy concerns as restrictions or challenges, a more helpful perspective may be to look at them as an opportunity: an opportunity to win customers over by proving their privacy is valued, and an opportunity to build more creative, sustainable approaches to data gathering and marketing as a whole. 


Contextual advertising, for instance, is seeing a major uptick in use. This strategy allows marketers to target ads based on the content of actual web pages (and assumptions made about what viewers of a given page would want to see), rather than based on individual user behavior. It’s a way of continuing to target ads to audiences likely to be interested, based on a number of factors, but without the privacy implications. 


It’s also worth considering creative data solutions like Priority Push, which uses unobtrusive code on a specific website or page to gather visitor IP addresses. This kind of data collection adheres to privacy regulations, while also offering plenty of options for marketers for both email and direct mail follow-up campaigns.   


Brands can also use these less-invasive tools to encourage repeat visits and purchases. For instance, brands can keep track of users who “abandon” carts and send digital or direct mail targeted at those customers and their products. You might even have an option to “reactivate” those carts and send customized offers to encourage potential customers to return and complete their orders. A similar approach can be used to cross-sell and upsell, by analyzing what customers are looking at, purchasing together, or what their overall customer profile might look like.  


Tracking direct mail data also offers plenty of ways to get information on leads and customers without invasive, tracking behavior. In fact, less invasive strategies actually may produce better results! According to Digiday, 45% of surveyed marketers say that behavioral advertising (aka third-party cookies and similar techniques that tend to raise privacy concerns) has not produced a notable benefit. Even more telling: 23% say it has actually caused ad revenue to decline.2 


Whatever strategy brands choose, the key is to ensure users’ privacy concerns (and all applicable laws and regulations) are respected while still gathering the necessary data. By looking for more creative solutions and adapting to this new frontier, marketers can stake out a place for their brands as savvy, customer-first companies that clients will love doing business with. 



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