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Damion Brown: Privacy or Personalisation? Yes, Please.

Written by Damion Brown, Managing Director of Jellyfish

If you follow the science and technology behind AdTech, it is absolutely possible to both revel in the endless marketing possibilities driven by data collection…and tell your mum to install an adblocker, and to not use Facebook so much.

The balance between creating personalised consumer experiences and protecting data privacy is a tricky one for sure. Public awareness of targeted advertising is on the upswing, pushing brands to deliver more relevant messaging in less intrusive ways. Simply put, marketers can’t track people and follow them around the internet anymore; they have to work smarter.

Clever, relevant messaging is key, but is only as good as the proficiency of a chosen channel to deliver it. This is where marketing needs to be more tactical, with brands leveraging their first-party data in ways they never have before. Taking a deeper dive into these insights will likely take more effort but will ultimately provide new dimensions to fuel keenly targeted content.

Measuring Intent

Think of it as adding the why to the what, where and when of the customer interface. More important than the black and white data points around consumer interaction within their user journey is the intent shown by those interactions. It’s looking at the behaviours people are exhibiting up to and including when they make a purchase.

Here’s the difference. Take a car manufacturer who puts together an email marketing campaign. The prevalent way of doing this is often to send multiple emails to prospective buyers, each focusing on a relevant topic; one might be about safety, one about warranty information, one about roadside assist, and so on. It’s kind of a scattergun approach, but the marketer puts it into action, believing it’s accomplishing something.

Now put some intelligence behind the methodology to analyse intent. If I’m a potential car buyer, and I visit that manufacturer’s website in February, then in May, then not for a year after that, that’s very different than if I’m there in February, March, April and May; maybe along the way, I check out the virtual car configurator and change the colour a few times or add some accessories. Those sets of interactions will look the same from the purchase angle, but they’re very different behaviours. A marketer who digs into the details can find loads and loads of data points chained together.

The Role of AI

Personally, I’m sort of on the fence about AI. When I think of AdTech and the work agencies do, it can seem like people moving sliders, adjusting keyword bids, trying to get the best bang for the advertising buck. But in doing so – in trying to act in the way a computer works in order to optimise an outcome – it can seem like humans trying to be more like a robot.

On the other hand, when it comes to collecting and analysing first-party data effectively, including the multitudinous data point chains described in my car buyer example, AI can massively speed up the process of getting more performance out of the campaign. From that view, I would say AI’s true value comes from its ability to enable advanced pieces of analysis in a tremendously scalable way.

Privacy Compliance

In addition to collecting, analysing and using data to market to consumers in newly targeted and relevant ways, brands also need to remain vigilant on privacy protocol, a directive made more challenging in a global landscape where governance can vary from market to market. In the Ad Tech industry, we tend to think everyone is like us, understanding the data science behind online behaviour. But when a regular person goes on the web, they may go on Facebook, book a flight, buy something on Amazon – not realising that they are being tracked through all of those actions.

The global challenge for MarTech is in managing digital campaigns across markets without governance consistency. To cover the variance, global brands should take the approach of treating the whole world like it’s California; they think okay, let’s get serious about this, let’s be very careful.

Data privacy is being correctly designated as a MarTech imperative. As a result, I believe we’ll see brands finding new and better ways to deliver a personalised user experience while at the same time enabling consumers to regain control over what’s happening in their digital lives.