We’re already in a new era of digital privacy. A Forrester study showed that in 2019, 77% of US adults use at least one privacy tool online — and it’s not by default. The majority of consumers want more privacy and more control over their data online.

So, how do you adapt to consumers’ needs without sacrificing your outreach strategies? Every brand is now a data company, and you have to discover new ways to collect data and communicate with customers.

The Move Away From Third-Party Cookies

The end of third-party cookies is one of the most talked-about privacy topics today. Major browsers like Apple have already ended their support for third-party cookies, and Google Chrome is moving away in the near future. As this trend continues to shift, you can no longer depend on cookies for retargeting capabilities.

Why has the digital world moved away from third-party cookies? It comes down to a lack of consent. Third-party cookies exploit relevant information and allow data and activity on one website to be tracked by another. So, if you want to gain the trust of your consumers, it’s best to meet their needs and part with third-party cookies now.

With the end of third-party cookies, Chris Harrison, CEO of FullContact, says, “What we're trying to do is give control back to the brands and their customers... and I think what you're going to see is more and more of this as we start to build up that kind of trust layer underneath our digital economy today. A lot of companies are trying to build that, but also relying on other companies and digital trust agents to help them manage their first-party relationships with customers.”

What Emerging Technologies Can Help You Collect Data in a Privacy-Safe Way?

There are a number of different ways to collect data without the use of third-party cookies. It could be anything from an email opt-in to a digital advertisement. No matter how you collect data, you want to make sure you have a standard way of protecting it.

One example is encrypting data transfers through keys. As data is being collected, you can protect it through the keys and then limit who gets access to them. Any identifier you use from that point forward isn’t reversible, so you can protect the identity and data of each individual.

Although third-party cookies are going away, first-party cookies are not. You can use web recognition tools to recognize returning customers on your site. You can also partner with other companies to leverage additional insights, create better customer recognition tools, and improve the consumer experience.

Meeting Consumers’ Needs in the Cookieless Present

There isn’t a single, silver-bullet solution to help you thrive in the cookieless present. However, there are multiple strategies you can compile to reach consumers and differentiate your brand. Kevin Lazorik, Co-founder and Senior Vice President of Alliances at Hero Digital, says that brands have to ask themselves, “What does our user want? And how are we meeting that need?” According to Kevin, this will “never serve you wrong as a brand, as a marketer, or as an organization that's trying to be client-first. And that's an example of where leading brands are starting to differentiate.”

In 2020, Forrester asked consumers what would motivate them to share more information with companies. The top answer? Nothing. Consumers believe that companies have enough data and don’t need any more. The number two answer was cash — customers want to get paid for sharing their data. So what actionable responses can companies take to meet these needs?

Loyalty programs are unique opportunities to reward consumers for sharing information. You can also give them a choice to opt out in the future, which has been shown to make consumers more willing to give information because they still have some control over their data. Consumers vary across industries and brands, so it’s important that you keep your specific customer in mind when shaping your strategy.

Above all, your brand has to be transparent. If you want to build trust with consumers for the long term, keep them in the loop of what data you’re collecting, how you’re collecting it, and who you’re sharing it with.

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