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The Impact of Privacy Regulations on Marketers

The Wall Street Journal recently asked senior executives from different segments of the ad industry to predict the short and long-term effects of the new privacy regulations that began with the GDPR in Europe, are spreading to California via the California Consumer Privacy Act and almost certainly to the rest of the U.S. at some point. (Note: the WSJ article requires subscription.)


A couple of themes emerged: One is that with easier ways to opt out of sharing data, more people will do so, not understanding the trade-offs between tracking and better targeting of information pertinent to them. Many may believe that by opting-out they will avoid having very sensitive information, perhaps even their social security number, disseminated.

The big losers in this movement will be the smaller players in the social media or ad tech space, who lack scale. Google and Facebook will still have more data on their users even after any changes in privacy regs take place. This is an unfortunate unintended side-effect of the EU’s attempt to control the power of those two platforms.

Back to the Future

The other theme was the imperative for marketers to develop their own first party data sources and mine their analytics for insight, collected from assets they own such as their website. This will force marketers to increasingly deploy some old-school methods to reach their target. Getting people to sign up for newsletters, sign-ups at activations or events and direct mail will be more important to brands.

Certainly companies won’t stop using Google or Facebook ads, but these privacy developments might be a wake-up call to marketers that their own data is their best long-term hedge for success. It might also prove to be a boon to marketing data analytics companies such as Trust Insights.

On the bright side, these changes to the marketing landscape will hopefully lead to better content that provides more value in order to earn viewer buy-in. In spite of the many articles on content marketing that call for thought leadership, anyone taking a quick spin down their LinkedIn feed will see a lot of posts and videos from companies trumpeting their own product features and benefits.

What are your predictions as to how the new privacy regulations will affect advertising?