Privacy Rules and Their Impact on Digital Advertising

It is no secret that web users have become more savvy about their privacy online and are increasingly demanding more control over how information about them is used by advertisers, among other groups. If you have an iPhone, chances are that you’ve been prompted to decide whether advertisers can track you outside of apps, and virtually every web user has been prompted to accept or decline cookies when landing on a website.

These decisions are part of an overall effort on behalf of governments and consumer groups alike to limit the use of personal data and give internet users more control over who knows personal information like name, address, and shopping habits. The European Union and California both have laws restricting companies from retaining personal information about site visitors, and tech companies are following suit to comply with these laws. For example, Google has announced it will block third party cookies starting in 2023.

For digital marketers, these evolving privacy rules create new challenges. Personal information attained through web browsing has long been a powerful tool for targeting digital advertising to the right audience. The new rules mean that new strategies are required. Is your digital advertising plan in line with privacy rules and other new online restrictions? Here is what you need to know.

What personal information is restricted under new privacy rules?

Personal information that has typically been available to marketers has included a mix of:

  • Names
  • Email and physical addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Identifying information, such as Social Security numbers
  • Financial information
  • Usage information, including which sites were visited

Not every company has retained this kind of information, and the laws restricting which information is fair game for companies to have are evolving. However, the trend is to err on the side of protecting consumer privacy aggressively, which means companies that have traditionally relied on this kind of information to shape their digital marketing campaigns will need to plan for a new normal.

Why do data privacy laws impact digital marketing so significantly?

Information about who is visiting websites, what purchases they are making, where they live, and how they’re paying for purchases helps to guide marketers as they’re making decisions about effective digital marketing strategies. For example, social media advertising is an effective component of any digital marketing campaign, but it only works if you know exactly which social media sites the target demographics use. Adverting extensively on Tik Tok, for instance, is only effective if your market is using it instead of Facebook, Twitter, or another platform.

The data collected from online customers and information about web usage helps with ad placement, messaging, and design. It helps businesses understand which of their marketing efforts are working and what about those efforts is most effectively reaching the right audience. Losing access to this information means that digital advertising campaigns need to take a brand-new approach.

Are there other data privacy changes that could impact digital advertising?

Because privacy laws and policies are changing in real time, it is not always possible to know what kinds of new restrictions will impact marketing and advertising efforts. However, one significant change that is looming comes from Meta, the parent company behind Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. As of 2022, Meta will no longer allow people to target advertising on any of the company’s channels according to religion, political affiliation, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other potentially sensitive identifiers. Targeting ads according to certain health issues, such cancer, will also be prohibited.

Meta is making this decision to protect users’ privacy and to discourage “echo chamber” content, in which users see posts that could be designed to manipulate or to exclude certain groups. These changes have major implications for advertisers, especially those working in the Christian media space or other religious channels, as it will no longer be possible to target audiences based on those affiliations. Although there is a significant amount of pushback to Meta’s decision, it looks unlikely to be changed.

What can digital advertisers and marketer do to adjust to privacy rules?

Data privacy changes mean that different techniques are required, but it doesn’t mean that digital advertising will lose its effectiveness. You simply must adjust to the new normal and use new strategies to reach your customers. One of the most important things you can do is to renew your focus on creating quality content with strong SEO practices. Content quality is a major factor in your organic search engine ranking, and because your targeted advertising efforts will be limited, strong search engine ranking will be even more significant.

Another strategy is to use gated offers in your digital advertising. A gated offer is a coupon or other promotion that customers can receive in exchange to sharing specific information with you. You can also use gated offers to solicit feedback directly from customers about what is working in your digital efforts. Customers who agree to complete a survey in which you ask questions about their online habits can then receive a coupon towards a future purchase. Gated offers let you collect data transparently from customers who are willing to share.

It can also be helpful to rethink how you judge campaign effectiveness. Instead of getting into evaluating advertising on a micro level, look at the overall advertising spend and the increase in customer engagement following it. Since tracking on individual sites and platforms may be harder, looking at the big picture will give you a better overview of your campaign’s success.

Salem Surround brings unique insight into the challenges of navigating data privacy rules that is helpful to companies who rely on Christian markets and who need to continue to target that group. Our strategies will help you meet your customers’ expectations for privacy while also reaping the rewards of successful digital advertising. Get answers to your questions about data privacy, digital marketing, and more by calling us today at 1-844-277-5797.

Smiling people participate in a standup meeting in an open office
A woman makes a purchase on her laptop

Learn more or receive a free digital presence evaluation. Contact us today.