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Data Protection Regulations’ Impact on Digital Marketing Is Here!

For over a year, warnings have been sounded that one of the greatest challenges for data collectors and marketers in 2021 will be complying with regulations concerning the collection and use of consumer data. After the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted in Europe in 2018, many initially believed that the regulation was something only European companies needed to be concerned about. That reaction failed to account for the global aspects of the internet. When the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) was passed and scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023, many once complacent corporate leaders began to take notice.

While companies of all sizes have seen how the new regulations are impacting global marketing,  few have realized how the new laws were going to impact digital marketing around the world. Google recently announced that it will stop tracking individual users’ web browsing habits, or selling ads based on them, and will phase out tracking users across websites.

Internet users and consumers have become incensed after Google, Facebook and other internet platforms were discovered sharing and profiting from users’ personal, private data. A recent report by Pew Research Center found that 72% of people felt like the majority of their online activity was being tracked by advertisers, tech firms and others. More than 80% said the potential dangers of mishandled and unauthorized data collection outweighed the benefits. Senior marketing leadership are understanding the practical impact GDPR and CPRA have on marketing efforts and who is ultimately responsible for collecting and controlling consumer data.

George Popstefanov, founder and CEO of digital agency PMG says. “Following last year’s announcement to phase out third-party cookies, many of our clients have been moving swiftly to build their data infrastructures and to invest in their CRM, to better leverage their first-party data.

The important thing is that consumer behavior isn’t fundamentally shifting, just our ability to track and measure behaviors as we’ve been accustomed to. The importance of strategic planning and insights will be more important than ever for understanding audiences and how to connect at the right times and in contextually relevant ways.” Google is promising not to use other methods to “track” users after it ends support for cookies in Chrome by early 2022.

Advertisers collect and use consumers’ personal data from the web to target specific customers with specific messaging and advertising. The practice has revolutionized sellers’ abilities to connect with potential buyers in a personal and finely-targeted manner. After Google implements its new policy, everything in the digital marketing arena will change dramatically. “In a way, you are losing the ability to track and measure behavior as we have been accustomed to at this point,” concluded Popstefanov.

The past success of harvesting and using data to identify and predict consumers’ buying behavior may have resulted in many marketing professionals becoming complacent. The automation programs and ability to easily establish optimal assumptions about customers’ activities suppressed reliance on some basic, fundamental marketing skill-sets practiced in the past. Agencies who still retain professionals who can reclaim and reutilize that skill-set quickly are in a position to better respond to the effects of the new regulations and to better-guide clients in making necessary adjustments to the formation and implementation of an updated strategic digital marketing plan.

David Temkin, Google’s director of product management for ads privacy and trust states, “Developing strong relationships with customers has always been critical for brands to build a successful business, and this becomes even more vital in a privacy-first world. Keeping the internet open and accessible for everyone requires all of us to do more to protect privacy—and that means an end to not only third-party cookies, but also any technology used for tracking individual people as they browse the web.”