28th Jun, 2021

Privacy is (finally) taking centre stage

Privacy has been a hot topic for over a decade now. From the e-Privacy Directive (aka the ‘cookie law’) to GDPR and CCPA, privacy laws have come into effect mostly as a reactive measure to bad practices. It was scandals like Cambridge Analytica that made the public aware of how their data were being shared (and sold) and the control that ecosystems like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon have accumulated.

On the technology side, marketing and ad technologies slowly added more data points and utilized tracking technologies (from 3rd party cookies to probabilistic modeling and technographics for fingerprinting) to ensure a highly targeted and personalized experience. However, the way marketers have achieved the ‘Holy Grail’ of personalization has not always been transparent to the customer. Today, an average user receives 24 emails with tracking pixels per day and around 10 cookies per visited website —  staggering if not alarming figures, which few users realize. The era of ‘surveillance advertising’ is coming to an end, though, and that is good for both consumers and brands.

Surveillance advertising is dead. Enter privacy.

Privacy has taken center stage, accelerated by tech giants like Apple and Google. From the end of 3rd party cookie support for Google Chrome by 2023 (Apple’s Safari stopped supporting 3rd party cookies long ago ) to the latest iOS changes that are rapidly changing the AdTech and MarTech ecosystems. In iOS 14.5 Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency which requires all apps to obtain permission before tracking users. This led 96% of users in the US to opt out of tracking, a move seen by many as a direct challenge to Facebook.And with the latest iOS 15 release, announced during the WWDC21 event, Apple seems to push the privacy agenda further with several privacy-related features. The ones that stand out are:

  • Mail Privacy Protection will mask IP addresses of email users, limit information on opens and block pixel tracking
  • Privacy Report will allow users to see how often each app has access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days
  • iCloud+ Private Relay blocks IP tracking and fingerprinting techniques (Google is also working on a similar feature as part of its Privacy Sandbox). The technology behind this function is Apple’s dual-hop proxy implementation, it utilizes an Ingress and an Egress Proxy to keep user IP and browser history anonymous so no single entity can identify the user and the sites they visit.
  • Extensions of Intelligent Tracking Prevention that will prevent trackers from obtaining a user’s IP address to guess a location or try to track them across pages or sites
  • Hide My Email, another iCloud+ feature, that will create random, temporary email addresses to mask a user’s email address. This will effectively allow users to unsubscribe from any user list, while blocking techniques that identify users based on their hashed emails

The direct impact of these changes is not fully known. Based on the information available, we expect several changes once iOS 15 officially rolls-out in September, including:

  • A significant % of opens data will no longer be usable (for a given client the % of opens on iOS can vary between 30%-50%)
  • The ability to remove unengaged audiences from your email lists will be dramatically hindered
  • Real-time solutions that rely on opens will move towards near-real time (hours)
  • Email journeys and orchestration will require adjustments to counter for unknown engagement
  • IP targeting and identity matching will become even less reliable

Brands will need new, privacy-focused approaches to reaching customers

This will be a challenge to navigate, specifically for organizations that rely on opens and IP addresses to track performance, attribute value based on opens, or build behavioural profiles. However, there’s a broader context to consider about where the market is heading. Organizations need to combine enhanced privacy controls and empower users, while still creating personalized experiences. In this delicate balancing act, marketers need to implement a long-term strategy and focus more on first-party data, enhanced security and privacy, and high-quality content that drives impact down the funnel. Some key trends related to that bigger picture are already in play, such as :

  • A move from relying on third-party data to first-party data. This will accelerate the move from data management platforms (DMPs) to customer data platforms (CDPs) and allow marketers to unlock the value of owned data
  • New technologies will emerge such as Google’s FLoC behavioural targeting or open initiatives like Unified ID 2.0 (UID2). It’s still too early to predict which ones will be successful as key players will try to expand their dominance
  • Attribution modelling and  proxy metrics of marketing’s impact  will be reconsidered for their efficiency, especially in paid media channels
  • Contextual targeting will re-emerge as critical to marry context with content when driving personalized experiences
  • Stronger collaboration and data sharing between advertisers and publishers to replace reliance on third-party data 
  • More emphasis on precise content to compensate for the loss of tracking precision of content

Persado is well positioned to help brands and marketers in this evolving environment. Our AI platform generates content and decisions to drive significant value without IP addresses, third-party cookies or other tracking technologies — impact built for a privacy-first world. Persado has always focused on engagement (via clicks) and conversion tracking to ensure direct measurable benefit to businesses, but Persado’s technology is not affected by any of the recent changes.

Persado’s enterprise-level security and privacy offering utilizes first-party data and enriches it with a new, patented type of first-party data – the language profile of a customer that provides marketers with unique insights and an ability to engage with customers through the words and communications that drive impact.

Persado’s unique ability to generate language and predict the best performing messages allows business executives to drive material outcomes across communications (sales and marketing, service, compliance and more) without relying on private data. Given our 96% success rate of delivering better-performing content, we will still drive positive impact regardless of which attribution models and tracking technologies customers use. This is a challenging new world, but it is not the first time that technological or legal changes affect customer engagement.

The difference is that today’s changes give customers more control and transparency over their data, something we should all embrace. The need for quality content, specifically how to talk to customers, and cross communications will continue to grow and become more relevant in a privacy-first world.

At Persado we see an opportunity to regain customer confidence and provide personalized experiences on the foundation of customer trust, which every brand and marketer should welcome.


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