Privacy and the Future of Marketing Data

Data privacy becomes more important by the day. With the rapid growth of the digital economy and data analytics, companies are constantly seeking ways to access, store and use consumer data, hence the increasing importance of responsibly handling data and protecting user privacy.   

An understanding of how privacy laws will shape the future of digital marketing data is key, and businesses will need to take a proactive approach in understanding how these laws will affect their own privacy policies; they will then be able to maximise the value of their data while adhering to the changing legal environment.  

This article will review some recent changes to regulations, as well as upcoming changes and how the industry may adapt.  

How Data Privacy Has Changed in Recent Years  

Data privacy laws and regulations are constantly evolving, as are consumer attitudes towards privacy. 62% of consumers in the U.S. claimed they have become more aware of how their data is used online over the past year, and 75% of Americans are either ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about their privacy.  

As you are aware, privacy laws dictate how and when a company can collect data, how they can use it, where they can store it, and for how long. They also outline who is allowed to have access to data and who is not. This will vary depending on the industry, type of data, and the purpose of the data. with financial and healthcare data generally subject to stricter regulations.  

The Data Protection Act in the UK was introduced in 2018 as the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), stipulating various ‘data protection principles’ such as that data must be ‘used fairly, lawfully and transparently’ and for ‘specified, explicit purposes’.  

Similar laws have been introduced in other countries, such as the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill in India, and the Privacy Act of New Zealand. In the United States, attempts to introduce a federal level data privacy law – the American Data Privacy Protection Act (ADPPA) – have been unsuccessful.  

As a result, there is a push for laws to be introduced at a state level. There is already the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) and currently, several more states are in the process of introducing their own laws.    

Other laws in place in the U.S. include:  

  • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) 
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPPA) 
  • The Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA) 
  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) 
  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) 

In addition to the legal changes, some tech companies are updating their privacy procedures. For example, Apple now requires iOS 14.5 users to opt into sharing their unique Identity for Advertisers (IDFA) with apps. If they do not opt in, the options for tracking will be vastly limited. This has been disconcerting for Facebook in terms of its ad revenue.   

Upcoming Changes in Data Privacy 

Web 3.0 

Web 3.0 will be a revolutionary development in terms of consumer privacy and identity data protection. By leveraging blockchain technology, users will be able to determine how their personal information is used, who has access to it, and for what purpose. They will also be able to conduct transactions without the intermediation of third parties and with higher levels of security and privacy, allowing them to keep their identity information safe from hackers.  

Furthermore, the availability of decentralised applications and protocols on the blockchain will create a more secure environment for online transactions, as data stored in a distributed ledger is immutable and protected from malicious actors.  

More information about how these changes may impact marketing can be found here  

Shifting the Focus to First-Party Data 

Whilst the full extent of the changes caused by Web 3.0 may not come about for some time, other technological changes are already upon us; namely, the consequences of third party cookies becoming obsolete this year. This will make targeting and personalisation a challenge; thus, an emerging trend will be the increase in the acquisition of first party data instead. As customers continue to expect personalised experiences, this is an important step to take.  

Increased focus on the quality of data is also expected; given that there are concerns about the reduced ROI of alternatives to third party cookies, focusing on quality will help to ensure that targeting is robust and effective. (As an aside, using first party tracking methods makes GDPR compliance easier and the lack of analytics pixels may improve page loading speeds.) 

Contextual Advertising 

Cookieless solutions are on the rise, including contextual advertising, a type of anonymous targeting. This method places ads based on contextual rather than behavioural data; in other words, it considers factors such as location, the page content category, and keywords. For example, if someone is browsing a page about weightlifting techniques, they are likely to be receptive to ads about fitness equipment. This method does not require any personal data to be collected.  

The contextual advertising market is projected to be worth $476 billion by 2028 while in 2020, it was worth $140 billion; a CAGR of 16.4%. An advantage of this method is that the contextual signals used are highly relevant and some studies have shown that they significantly improve reach and CTR 

Developments to the technology involved in contextual advertising will continue. Last year, Integral Ad Science (IAS) acquired AI company, Context, for this purpose. Context specialises in image and video classification, which is important for sophisticated targeting.  

Aggregated Targeting 

Aggregated targeting is another solution. This method groups users and then segments them for analysis, and no individual users are identifiable. Google’s Topics API within their Privacy Sandbox is used for this purpose.  


Third party cookies provided marketers with great precision when it came to behavioural metrics. Now, a new approach to measurement will be needed for some, with a renewed focus on metrics such as positioning and customer satisfaction.   

An Opportunity for Innovation 

Regulatory changes present an opportunity to innovate. As businesses become increasingly compliant with privacy laws and regulations, there is also an increasing need for new technologies and solutions to help companies stay compliant. The situation therefore presents a huge opportunity for innovative marketing technology solutions to emerge that can help businesses leverage their data to improve their marketing performance.  

As well as the developments in contextual advertising technology, edge computing may offer promising alternatives to third party cookies. Edge computing involves processing data within the browser so that it does not need to be transferred to a server. This reduces the chances of it being compromised.  

Other technologies that assist with compliance include tools for the anonymisation and pseudonymisation of data.   

Customer-Centric Marketing 

Whilst more solutions to compensate for the lack of third party cookies will be developed, tending to the human aspect of marketing is going to be just as important, and will help with everything from customer acquisition to retention – especially if the anonymisation brought on by blockchain technology takes off.  

The Importance of Building Trust 

With customers becoming more aware of privacy risks and expecting greater privacy than ever, trust will be a vital factor in retaining them.  

There are several ways to build trust, as far as data is concerned. Being clear about what data is being collected and why is the first step (and a requirement of the GDPR); this is also an opportunity to explain how they will benefit from providing their data. In addition, only ask for data that is going to be used.  

Consumers should also feel secure about how any partnering organisations are handling their data – not just one’s own organisation.  

Finally, provide information about the security measures taken, such as the use of encryption, or compliance with international standards.  

Leveraging CRM Systems 

As well as finding new methods for tracking and focusing more resources on contextual advertising, the use of CRM systems may become more widespread. They are an invaluable resource for gaining customer insights and are perhaps not used to their full capacity in many cases. They are also important for aligning marketing and customer service efforts.  

Communicating Company Values 

The increasing importance of Corporate Social Responsibility is widely known. Customer perceptions of brands that are actively working towards making the world a better place are more favourable, especially among the younger generations. Now is the time for businesses to use their marketing communications to make it clear what they stand for and to back that up with evidence. Doing so will help in winning over younger segments and increasing loyalty.   


Data privacy laws will continue to evolve as the digital marketplace and digital economy continues to grow. As such, marketers need to remain vigilant in their approach to using data in a responsible manner. With the GDPR serving as a notable example, regulations will be increasingly stringent, requiring marketers to become more proactive in their approach to data. 

To better manage the evolving regulatory landscape, organisations should make it a priority to stay up to date with the latest regulatory changes. They may also actively engage in industry-wide discussions about data privacy in order to gain insights into how other marketers are handling data, and identify areas for improvement.  

Cookieless technologies are developing, and it is wise for any organisation that has not already begun implementing contextual advertising to do so before the year is out. Otherwise, focusing more on the human aspect of marketing and keeping an eye on blockchain developments are a must.  

To discover how we’re helping businesses worldwide develop leading marketing strategies, contact us – we would be delighted to assist.

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