How Agencies Can Help Advertisers Navigate Higher Privacy Standards

New privacy regulations from China to California and anti-tracking changes by gatekeepers like Google and Apple have many marketers worried about a possible dip in ad targeting effectiveness. How are marketers supposed to target their customers effectively on Google and Facebook, not to mention on the open web, without readily available information on what their customers are doing online and where?.

At its Google Marketing Live conference in May, Google said it would help advertisers with privacy changes by allowing advertisers to share privacy-safe first-party data with the ad giant. Google will then use this data to automate targeting so that advertisers do not need reams of privacy-sensitive data from Google to target customers across its search properties, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, and elsewhere.

But Google’s assistance does not mean there is no role for agencies to play in helping advertisers navigate higher privacy standards. On the contrary, advertisers still face a major challenge. They need to provide the privacy-safe, rich first-party data that Google can use to automate targeting, and that is no small task.

Here’s how agencies can help advertisers navigate privacy changes to maintain effective digital advertising programs.

Help brands build a first-party data strategy

The first step toward overcoming the business challenges presented by privacy changes is understanding why they are happening and what is really changing. Agencies have a role to play in clarifying this for advertisers.

Ultimately, the data privacy movement is about giving the end user more control over their data. To that end, brands need to base their data strategy on consent, providing as much value as possible to customers to earn their data and set up plans to collect that data across touchpoints. For example, brands should have clear and comprehensible privacy policies, run surveys to collect consumer information in exchange for a personalized experience, and offer deals as a reward for loyalty program sign-ups.

For agencies, laying out this advice and helping advertisers set up first-party data collection procedures is the first step toward assisting clients in adjusting to a privacy-conscious digital advertising environment.

Next comes helping advertisers not just collect first-party data but unify it across platforms and find privacy-safe ways to share it with ad platforms like Google and Facebook, who can use it to augment their own data and help brands reach customers.

Unify and safely share customer information

Brands looking at customer data and wondering how to achieve a holistic view of their customers will likely encounter the same problem: fragmentation. Customer data is usually siloed across CRM software, social platforms, website analytics, and other tools that might collectively paint a compelling picture of consumers but are difficult to unify.

This is not necessarily easy for agencies, either. Agencies are experts at using audience data to run advertising; they are not necessarily experts at integrating audience information across hundreds of different client tools to power a first-party data-driven targeting strategy.

Agencies can use custom software to integrate audience data across platforms and generate the holistic picture of audiences that brands crave. Many brands struggle with limited direct interaction with customers (CPGs, for example, rarely interact directly, while retailers often do). Effective integration of data across platforms is the way to generate a lot of value from relatively few resources.

Once agencies have helped their clients collect and unify audience data, the next task is to share it safely with ad platforms like Google and Facebook. Consent management solutions can help agencies ensure they are only collecting and sharing audience data with active consumer approval. Data clean rooms can close the loop, allowing advertisers to share audience data without compromising customer identities.

Help advertisers take control of their data

Agencies need to help advertisers take control of their data strategy. Advertisers need to be able to collect audience data with consent, visualize and unify their data across platforms, and share it safely with ad platforms. Only then will advertisers transform privacy headwinds into tailwinds. The agencies that help brands get there will rise to the top of a complex ecosystem.

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