Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The Cookie Hasn’t Crumbled: Achieving Customer Insights in the Age of Data Privacy

By Adele Gritten, Managing Director of Future Thinking

2019 is certainly shaping up to be the year of privacy. It seems we can’t go a week without some headline grabbing news regarding privacy legislation, or a data breach that brings the issue to the forefront of public consciousness. 

The result? Consumers are increasingly concerned about their rights and data. Take GDPR for example, this legislation put ownership of personal data back into the hands of the individual –  carrying huge penalties for those companies that do not take the proper precautions to protect.   

More than ever, brands are coming under scrutiny for their attitudes to privacy. It should come as no surprise then that Google announced that it will be giving users more power over which cookies websites have installed on their Chrome browsers, distinguishing between cookies that actually help you and those that glean data for advertisers.

Personalisation in the Age of Privacy

Was this a move to hand back power to the individual, or a tactical move to give Google a greater edge over the competition? That in itself is a wider argument, but at least from a brand and advertising perspective the announcement raised questions and concerns. Cookies provide information that could be useful for companies to track the success of campaigns and understand the customer journey in order to ultimately deliver a more personalised experience to customers.

In today’s digital world we all expect a certain level of service; be that personalised ads, tailored customer journeys and intuitive user interfaces. It’s these touches that help create customer loyalty. In the age where digital security and data privacy are hot topics, just how can businesses get the data and insights they need? Simply put, it’s transparency.

The Data Trade-Off

In the research industry we have not seen a decline in those sharing their data with us, in fact it’s the complete opposite. Consumers still take part in research surveys for one, but it goes way beyond that.  We have greater access now than ever before, and on a much more personal level; whether we’re gathering biometric responses to adverts or using passive measurement. The landscape has never been richer.

The current environment has falsely led many to believe that consumers are reticent to share their information and data, but the fact is as consumers we are happy to share, as long as the purpose is clear. Sharing your data for a specific purpose – when you have a sense of the outcome, is far more attractive than simply handing it to anonymous third parties for an unknown purpose.

Brands can only survive by truly knowing their customers, and now is the time to think beyond the cookie and invest in approaches that will get you the insights you need – all the while building trust and transparency with consumers. Some example include: 

Passive measurement

Passive measurement is the process of monitoring network traffic without injecting new traffic or modifying the existing one, and is one of many new approaches utilised to extract and monetise value in this data driven age. 

Passive measurement can revolutionise the methods and sophistication with which we predict human behaviour and talk to consumers. With ever more personalised data sets, agile techniques for researching and capturing information, combined with more sophisticated data analytics tools — a non-invasive, yet comprehensive picture of consumer behaviour emerges.

Behaviour Change Modelling

Understanding customer’s current behaviour is one thing, but what brands also need to know is what they might do in the future. Are there factors at play that could but the brand or customer loyalty at risk?

At Future Thinking, we believe that to truly understand this risk brands must take the predictive onus away from consumers. BCM involves taking a deceptively simple set of questions, which focus on current consumer behaviour and applying advanced analytics to provide a clear view on risk of losing volume for a category or brand. Brands can understand the size of risk, consumer behaviour and the nudges or triggers that are influencing consumers to consider reducing use.

These are just two of the many examples bands can invest in. More than ever before getting to know your customers current and future behaviour is vital for survival. The brands that will best survive will be those that recognise just how data savvy their customers now are, and talk directly to it.