Transparency and control are only part of the consumer privacy solution
2021 is a year of disruption in martech and is the latest in several years of major disruptions to the space. Since 2017, with the introduction of Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention technology in Safari, we have seen even more major technology players respond to calls for increased consumer privacy and control, culminating in Apple's enforcement of their App Tracking Transparency framework later this year, as well as Google's deprecation of cookies in Chrome in 2021. In some cases, these efforts have outpaced government policy, with platforms and the wider advertising community proactively preparing for a cookie-less future -- even if Canada and other countries choose to take a less stringent approach than the GDPR. If you want to learn more about where Canadian privacy rules are headed, check out what the CMA had to say about Canada’s new federal privacy bill (the Consumer Privacy Protection Act) introduced last November. All these changes to the landscape will have dramatic effects for the ad-driven internet, and we are only seeing its initial impact.
While I generally applaud the efforts that government and tech giants are making to protect consumer privacy, we all have a role to play. In fact, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, Canadians trust in institutions was flat, or declined from 2019 to 2020, with governments and businesses tending to be the least trusted. Furthermore, there is a general sense that the pace of change in technology is too fast (62%) and that governments do not understand technologies enough to regulate them effectively (65%). These should be worrying statistics for regulators and technologists alike. In light of COVID-19, the 2021 survey painted a rosier picture for institutions, but it did find that societal leaders were not trusted to do what is right — this includes government leaders and CEOs in general.
So what's the way forward?
As with many technology problems we have all faced in the past, be it a laptop that's running a little slowly, or a computer refusing to connect to the WiFi, we have all turned to our friends, family and community for technical support. This case is no different from troubleshooting a webcam issue moments before a critical online meeting, but the knowledge and tools we need to arm ourselves with need to change.
As marketers and business leaders, we not only need to continue advocating for a free and ad-driven internet, but we need to also be the trusted source of accurate and honest information about these issues. In fact, in the same 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, respondents indicate that trust in their own employers and CEOs remains high. So regardless of our individual marketing discipline, our teams and employees rely on us to be the source of knowledge on these issues, and it’s incumbent on all marketing leaders to be (at least) somewhat knowledgeable in martech and privacy (or know someone who is) and speak intelligibly to what is to come.
Sadly, there's still a real gap in knowledge in our industry. In a recent AppsFlyer/Mobile Marketing Association survey, only 28% of mobile marketers say they are very or extremely familiar with changes to iOS 14. Fortunately, the percentage increases to 63% when you incorporate those who are somewhat familiar. Needless to say, this is a real knowledge chasm for those who actively work in the mobile space, let alone the general marketer.
As marketers, we should keep our finger on the pulse of these changes as we plan our strategies for the long term. We should also keep up to speed with how privacy rules are changing. Fortunately, the CMA is committed to keeping marketers up to speed with the latest privacy developments and compliance advice. In addition to their growing list of privacy and data protection resources online, you can stay in the know by registering for CMAprivacy on May 12, Canada’s annual privacy event for the marketing community.
Marketers need to own more of the digital privacy conversation and provide real objective viewpoints to these issues. The only way to do that is to know more and be fearless in talking about it with your own networks.