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Google's turnaround on cookieless targeting has been a shakeup for advertisers and marketers, who have been forced to make a move on data privacy and first-party data. At the same time, Apple's new data privacy laws have slammed Facebook with a $10 billion loss on ad sales.

In today's tumultuous market, a cookieless reality is no longer a future problem; it's happening now, and the industry was expected to act yesterday.

Brands, governing bodies, and consumers continue to express concern over online tracking and data protection, but whether they'll embrace Google Topics or seek out their own first-party data remains to be seen.

Over 50% of US consumers say they are uncomfortable with websites' tracking online behavior and capturing personal data, a recent MediaMath survey found. At the same time, 84% of consumers say they are more likely to trust brands that prioritize using personal information with a privacy-safe approach.

So, where do we go from here?

It's evident that people are ready for brands and marketers to take the leap into privacy-safe, data-driven advertising that puts consumer preferences at the beginning, middle, and end of the customer journey. More than 70% of consumers are willing to share their email addresses, preferences, interests, and demographic information directly with brands if doing so would improve their online shopping experience, according to the MediaMath survey.

Introducing privacy-safe targeting can help brands not only optimize data for creating more personalized experiences and seamless delivery but also pave the way for more trusting consumer brand relations.

Here are three tactics to help us get there.

1. Increase collaboration with the right partners

It's not enough to sit around and wait for the top tech innovators to pave the way for digital transformation. Brands and marketers looking to advance their digital advertising precision, transparency, and effectiveness for a more people-based, privacy-compliant approach should foster partnerships with agencies that provide them with the platforms to make those changes.

By developing strategic collaborative networks, companies will be empowered to move past legacy systems and pivot toward greater transparency and accessibility. They can use shared resources to retarget customers in a more thoughtful way, balancing customer anonymity with greater addressability.

In the cookieless open Web, such companies will be comfortable in the knowledge that they have the support they need to revitalize their advertising and offer a frictionless journey for their customers.

2. Lead with consent, always

A cookieless future doesn't mean that consumer data will no longer be targeted or used. Despite layers of privacy and anonymity, a brand's connection to its customers means their data will be accessible. For the customer, however, there is a bright side: consent.

Rather than forcing customers to "accept cookies" or leave a page without further information, brands will have to supply disclosures to ensure consumers understand how their data may be used as aligned with applicable law. Of course, in a privacy-first world, disclosures will go beyond legal interests and focus more on building customer relations.

In the new world, customers are king, and they are empowered enough to decide whether they should remain with a company or not. In such instances, company honesty will help redefine the customer-company relationship based on transparency and trust.

Moreover, consent-based identity solutions will help brands improve and increase retargeting of audiences on previously nonaddressable sites for a greater return on ad spend.

3. Improve the user experience

In an age of consent, customer experience is as important as trust. Users don't often read data usage banners because of their length and unnecessary complexity. In a virtual world of endless popup screens and flashing ads, it's much easier to click through and agree to terms to get to the desired page.

In the process, however, customers usually end up accepting all cookies without realizing to whom, or what, they are granting permissions. So many requirements to overcome to access everyday data mean that the customer will naturally look for the quickest route.

Rather than put the onus on users to manage individual cookies on every page they access, brands should simplify the process of consent with more user-friendly, brief, and accessible website banners. Banners might use more visual element,s such as graphics, images, and videos, to ease the process of disclosure without annoying the customer.

When you improve the user experience around consent, consumers will be more aware of what they are signing off on and thus feel greater trust and reliance in brands, and advertisers will be able to reach more users seamlessly. And to get there, we come back to point one: industry collaboration and partnership for greater privacy and improved user experience.

* * *

Privacy doesn't have to be a barrier for advertisers. In many ways, it's an opportunity, opening the doors to a new way of balancing trusting customer relations while increasing addressability through compliant, consensual targeting. In a cookieless world, that calls for greater collaboration and more active efforts to protect the consumer.

When managed correctly, privacy can create a new path to a more seamless journey from consumer to advertiser—in the user experience and the overall relationship. And that's not just an option: If advertisers hope to retain any place in a consumer's heart and mind, it's a necessity.

More Resources on Consumer Trust and Data Privacy

The Customer Data Conundrum: How CX Leaders Can Optimize Both Privacy and Personalization

Transparency and Trust: The Key Links Between Data Regulation and Customer Experience

Trust and Privacy: Reaching Today's Connected Customers [Infographic]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Fiona Campbell-Webster

Fiona Campbell-Webster is the chief privacy officer at MediaMath, an ad tech company. She sits on the legal/data policy and governance team as the legal lead for privacy, identity, and data use.

LinkedIn: Fiona Campbell-Webster

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