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The Path to Digital Success That Prioritizes Consumer Privacy

As privacy and tracking norms continue to change, marketers need help developing a strategy that successfully addresses any future restrictions and assures their success, while prioritizing consumer privacy.

The Path to Digital Success That Prioritizes Consumer Privacy

Find out how LeadsRx is helping marketers take the next evolutionary step in providing the best possible customer experience, with technology that enables you to see cross-platform devices, browsers, and apps to create a single, unified consumer path to purchase. In this article, we explore:

  • Stricter regulatory conditions and what they mean to marketers
  • Filling the void in the information-gathering ecosystem
  • How LeadRx’s Universal Conversion Tracking Pixel can help you map the customer journey without using cookies

Content Summary

Consumer privacy moves to the fore, potentially jeopardizing marketers’ jobs
What’s next? New solutions have rushed to fill the void
A novel solution that checks all the boxes
A new standard for more precise customer targeting

When you mention “cookies” to a marketer, their mind may make the jump to whether their job is on the line. Evolutions in the attribution ecosystem are putting pressure on their ability to underscore their value to brands.

Two advances are at play: heightened privacy protocols that threaten to limit customer data and the imminent demise of third-party cookies, which have played a crucial role in a marketer’s toolbox, whether used for targeting, measurement, attribution or all three. It’s consumer privacy first.

The fear is real, as these two developments are changing marketers’ capabilities. They alter the way information will be collected on the touchpoints that contribute to the path to purchase.

Marketers will need to determine new ways to glean data that prioritizes protecting consumers’ identity and information, while still fueling the analytic insights that help marketers improve user experiences, cost of acquisition, and return on ad spend (ROAS). Shoppers will still want relevant offers and information they have come to count on.

Fortunately, there’s a solution at hand that will preserve the important components of attribution and enable marketers to build a more accurate customer journey. Let’s explore how we got to where we are—and what’s next.

Consumer privacy moves to the fore, potentially jeopardizing marketers’ jobs

As the public becomes more wary of their privacy and potential identity theft, there has been a surge of emphasis on security and consumer rights. That has spurred a raft of emerging guidelines. They have differing repercussions, but they will all impact marketers and brands to some degree with stricter regulatory conditions.

The regulations include a veritable alphabet soup of programs that include:

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which strengthens privacy notices only in California, but is considered the gold standard to which most brands calibrate their privacy policies.
  • California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA), a 2020 update that changed the size of business and consumer audiences that were affected.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which while only applicable to the European Union, informs privacy policies for brands that operate globally.
  • Apple Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which uses an opt in, rather than opt out, standard for app tracking transparency.
  • Apple Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), a default setting that allows Safari browsers to block third-party cookies.

While these programs have been billed as providing important protections for consumers, marketers rely on maintaining certain information about their customers to serve them better. David Canelis, Vice President of Customer Success at LeadsRx, whose marketing attribution software offers insights that help deepen customer relationships, agrees.

“Marketers used to just blanket a segment of the population, which led to a mailbox full of junk mail, but now tools enable us to better target our outreach digitally. And while consumers agree that they’d rather only see things that interest them, that can’t happen without compiling a certain amount of information.” – DAVID CANELIS, Vice President of Customer Success at LeadsRx

There’s no denying that some marketing can seem intrusive, which is why companies need to strike a balance. “While I understand that people worry about being followed all over the internet, the alternative is to constantly see untargeted medical ads every time you log on to your computer,” says Lance Dobson, martech/adtech consultant and martech manager for 1-800-CONTACTS.

While better-targeted ads can be beneficial to consumers, it’s marketers who are feeling the brunt of the tightening. They’re rightfully concerned, not only about losing the insights that enable them to better serve their customers, but whether the very nature of their jobs is at stake. Their work will evolve and bring new challenges related to proving their efficacy as they struggle to adapt their marketing methods to target the right customers at the right time.

What’s next? New solutions have rushed to fill the void

As enhanced privacy and the deprecation of third-party cookies combine to leave a void in the information-gathering ecosystem, new initiatives aim to fill the gap. The proposed “first-generation” solutions involve a “universal ID,” which doesn’t adequately address a marketer’s needs.

In this scenario, a company aggregates information about a person’s browsing habits into a formula that creates one identifier, with subsequent information mapping back to that. While these early solutions can “glue together” identities effectively, the result is a number or string of characters that uniquely fingerprints an individual. This becomes much like a Social Security number or driver’s license number in the digital space.

That leads to two chief concerns.

First, this ID is essentially useless unless it’s incorporated within the various martech tools an agency or brand uses. “These solutions put the burden on the marketer, who then is responsible for deconstructing the data to determine how to use it in their own analytics and relying on the premise that whoever is providing that universal ID has the mapping correct in the first place,” says Canelis.

Therefore, unless all martech vendors incorporate these new IDs within their applications, the ID is not really delivering value because it will become too laborious on the part of the marketer to make use of it.

In addition, producing the ID in the first place results in a huge security risk should these identifiers get into the wrong hands. “The act of compiling this information and transferring it back and forth between the third-party identity management vendors and various marketers unearths the troubling possibility of this data being intercepted and used for nefarious purposes,” says Canelis.

That’s because a consumer’s most sensitive data is being centralized, points out Dobson. “Instead of having a variety of buckets of gold, so to speak, you’re going to have all the gold in one spot, which makes it a lot easier to swipe,” says Dobson. “For the consumers who are concerned about privacy, I put this solution in the ‘be careful what you wish for’ category. One data breach, and they’ll see that maybe cookies weren’t so bad after all.”

And of course, there’ll be a land grab to discover which of these various IDs will become the standard. That’s the concern of Matthew Greger, Vice President of Technology at Diray Media.

“The proliferation potentially sets up a challenging environment where a marketer might not have everything they need since the solutions rely on scale. If there are too many options that don’t talk to one another, I might not be able to get a true view to my customer.” – MATTHEW GREGER, Vice President of Technology at Diray Media

This flaw is a key reason his agency has embraced a solution recently introduced by LeadsRx, with software that enables brands to see cross-platform devices, browsers, and apps in a single, unified journey.

A novel solution that checks all the boxes

The LeadsRx solution is predicated on the premise that people have multiple personalities and personas that come through on different types of media and devices. In contrast to the unique identifier model, its Universal Conversion Tracking Pixel™ collects touchpoints across channels and stitches together a collection of personas, tying the consumer to their path to purchase.

Without using cookies, LeadsRx can link them together anonymously in a profile that is private and protected. After the software has identified anonymous personas, it uses proprietary algorithms to compile a confidence level based on a set of heuristics that essentially say that this collection of touchpoints all point to the same person. This enables them to map the user journey.

“We realized the value of these personas to solve the multi-channel attribution problem, without third-party or even first-party cookie data, as a way to give brands better insight. Each of our clients can then develop their own walled garden identity graph,” Canelis explains.

If a consumer sees a Facebook ad on their smartphone, but then later fires up their laptop, clicks a Google ad and then eventually converts on that channel, LeadsRx can provide proper attribution to the various touchpoints.

“The data’s all there so I’m able to see if Facebook also deserves part of the credit, along with Google, because Facebook was the initial point that attracted attention. The most exciting part for me as a data person is being able to write journeys as I see how it all maps together.” – MATTHEW GREGER, Vice President of Technology at Diray Media

The cross-channel capability even extends to external advertising. For example, if a brand is running broadcast media and supporting it with paid digital, LeadsRx gives a holistic view of what’s working. This helps define a more accurate measure of return on ad spend (ROAS). Greger says, “it would be fascinating to tweak aspects of your marketing in real time and watch the result.”

He also appreciates that LeadsRx divulges the “Confidence Level,” a measurement showing what LeadsRx believes the accuracy of the anonymous mapping to be. Marketers then have the flexibility to set the threshold to the level they want to see in their calculation for attribution.

Finally, it’s incumbent on marketers who need this consumer behavior data to demonstrate that they’re collecting it in a way that instills trust. With the Universal Conversion Tracking Pixel, the information is safe because LeadsRx doesn’t release graph identities, share matches across clients, or do any third-party retargeting.

Currently LeadsRx has more than 1.6 BILLION PERSONAS built in its system and has been collecting anonymous identities across thousands of websites since its inception.

While the solution begins tracking online activity from the first day a brand joins LeadsRx, marketers can also add supplemental information, like sales figures or broadcast spot logs from TV or radio advertising. “Together it all starts to aggregate into one solidified view of the customer journey,” says Canelis. “We provide more complete information that gives customers options and flexibility to be able to cope with changing landscape environments—to be preemptive, rather than reactive.”

A new standard for more precise customer targeting

As privacy and tracking norms continue to change, the sense of fear is palpable and marketers need help navigating the rough seas ahead. Brands recognize that being ahead of the curve is vital. It allows marketers to develop a strategy that successfully addresses any future restrictions and assures their success while prioritizing consumer privacy.

And while CMOs rely on analytics, they’re often uneasy about their reliability and their effect on strategy, notes Canelis. “New restrictions on how information flows and is tracked could exacerbate the problem,” he says. “At LeadsRx, we’re trying to take the next evolutionary step to give marketers the tools to provide the best possible customer experience to be more competitive. The ones who are able to use the data and analytics effectively are going to win the game.”