Digital Privacy Landscape Changes You Need to Know



The digital privacy landscape is changing, and if you’re not paying attention as a marketer, you’re going to be left behind.

By Lisa Heay, Director of Business Operations at Heinz Marketing

It’s no secret that the digital privacy landscape is changing. It’s been changing and evolving for several years now across the globe, and if you’re not paying attention as a marketer, you’re going to find yourself left behind with a hard road to catch up.

Here’s some changes that should be on your radar if they’re not already.

Application Tracking

Apple is now allowing people to choose if they want an app to be able to track them with their App Tracking Transparency feature, and people are often understandably saying “no”, resulting in companies like Facebook feeling the pain in lost revenue.

Transparency isn’t a bad thing, and with the knowledge, some are opting in.

According to an article from by Filipe Espósito, “While the number of users opting to let apps track them was low at first, new research from Adjust shows that some people have been changing their mind about this option. According to the research firm, the industry feared that the new App Tracking Transparency in iOS would hurt the mobile app market, which heavily relies on advertisements. In May 2021, opt-in rates were at around 16%. Now that number has grown to 25% a year later.”

Google is close behind, working on their own version of cross-application tracking transparency for Android users.

Third-Party Browser Cookies

In January 2020, Google announced that they’ll deprecate third-party cookies over the next two years (now delayed until the end of 2022)—and Apple and Firefox have already taken this step.

What are third-party browser cookies? My colleague, Cameron Katoozi, does a great job in his recent post outlining the difference between first-party and third-party cookies:

  1. First-party cookies: These are the cookies that are created and stored by the website you visit. These cookies remember a user’s specific settings and preferences each time you visit the webpage.
  2. Third-party cookies: These are the cookies that can put your privacy in danger. They are created and stored by an external site that is not the one you are visiting. Those sites usually own some of the ads or images you see on the website you are visiting. More ads on a site mean more cookies generated per page. These cookies not only track you on the site but also track you across different domains to better retarget and personalize future ads and messaging.

For years, brands have relied on cookies to track website visitors and collect data to allow targeting ads to “interested” audiences. But is this the best way? It’s costly and still a guessing game—piecing together bits of information from across the web to form a story of intent. 

For more information on the phase out of third-party cookies, check out resources from HubSpot, TechRepublic, and Terminus.

Apple Mail Privacy Protection

According to Apple, with the release of iOS 15, Mail Privacy Protection hides your IP address, so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location. And it prevents senders from seeing if and when you’ve opened their email.

It’s called “pre-fetching” opens, and Gmail and Yahoo are doing it, too.

Which means that email open rate is not a reliable metric. But was it ever, really? Just because someone opens your email, it does not mean the information has been read or processed in your prospect’s brain.

Perhaps this is a good incentive to focus on more actionable email marketing metrics, like clicks and conversions.

More and More Data Privacy Laws are Emerging

GDPR and CASL have been around for some time now, and CCPA and other state-specific data privacy laws are popping up across the country. 

According to NCSL, “five states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah and Virginia—have enacted comprehensive consumer data privacy laws. The laws have several provisions in common, such as the right to access and delete personal information and to opt-out of the sale of personal information, among others.

But how do you manage your database if each state has its own set of rules? That’s a tough question, and largely why GDPR came to be as it was difficult for companies to manage multiple countries’ rules.  

Maybe something similar is in store for the United States, but for now, you need an awareness of each state’s laws. It sounds like a marketing operations nightmare to segment each audience by state—if you even have that level of detailed data to begin with.

But you could pick which state you plan to adhere to—maybe the state where the majority of your consumers reside, or the one with the most strict rules. It’s a level of risk you need to evaluate on behalf of your organization.

How do we combat all these changes?

For one thing – we don’t. These rules make sense, and they are often welcomed by consumers and individuals. When given the choice to be tracked across your web browsing sessions, you’d likely say “no”, right? I would.

So with that, embrace it and work smarter for your leads. First-party data is king—it’s going to be more valuable than ever.

First Party Data

First party data is information collected straight from the prospect. This is information you collect on a website form, for example: Name, Title, Company, Email, etc. It’s also information you collect from your website, applications, social platforms, surveys, product reviews, etc.

There are many benefits of first party data. It’s more accurate – it comes straight from the source! It can be cheaper, as well. It may take more effort to gather, but there is no middle man here that you are purchasing intel from.

It also helps you build trust with your prospects, and keeps you in better compliance with data privacy laws as you can show for each record that they were acquired directly from the prospect voluntarily.

Not convinced? Here are some resources on the benefits of first-party data:

In Summary…

We’re just getting started. If there is anything I’ve learned in my career, it’s that marketing is a constantly evolving field, and changes related to data and digital privacy are not stopping any time soon. 

But change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It forces us to re-evaluate what works, what doesn’t, and work smarter in the future. Knowledge is power. Keep updated on these trends so you’re not caught off guard tomorrow. Good luck out there!