Ask the Snail! Data Privacy

Zippy Covid

Data, privacy and cookies...oh my! As a marketer, you are likely reading a lot about these important topics right now. Check out some points to consider regarding consumer data and privacy.

Dear Zippy,

I am a marketing executive for a well-known apparel brand. Whether we are advertising online or offline, driving consumers to a retail location or to our website, or capturing data to improve overall experience, privacy remains one area that we simply will not compromise. While new regulations like GDPR and CCPA have created more accountability and consequence for lack of compliance, those consequences are irrelevant to us as one of our company’s core belief is that we do not “own” our customers' data. They’ve given us permission to use their data and consequences or not, that won’t change.

I recently overheard my teenage daughter and her friends talking about online shopping (providing email addresses, providing date of birth to get special promotions, accepting all cookies as they enter a site) and I asked them if they are concerned about privacy. One replied, “privacy is an illusion.” 

So my question is simple: Is privacy an illusion?

Disillusioned in Dallas

Dear Disillusioned:

As I re-read your question, one thought kept coming to mind. What is the definition of privacy?

One definition is “freedom from interference or intrusion”. Another is “the right to not have one’s personal matters disclosed or publicized”. Privacy in the context of marketing refers to the “flow of personal information” (eMarketer).

Personal information, as defined by GDPR, is any information that is related to an identified or identifiable natural person. Some examples include email, IP or postal name and address, telephone numbers and credit card numbers; data, which when aggregated, can be linked to the identification of an individual. When your daughter is providing a website with her email address, birthdate and cookie ID, she is providing personal data which when aggregated can identify her. Like your daughter, many consumers do not have an objection to this practice. They think about giving their personal information less about privacy and more about a promise of value in exchange for that information.

It is a little different when you talk about the “flow” of personal information. The word flow implies movement from one place to another; the movement of my personal data, my name and address, account numbers and/or cookie information, from the website I provided it to, to a provider I did not. Here’s where it can become a privacy issue, where it can become a misuse of “my” data.

The belief your company has about who owns the data collected from your website is both accurate and admirable. Consumers allow advertisers access to their data all the time, in fact, 94% of consumers click “accept cookies” when visiting a website. But they do this in exchange for something: personalized content, product recommendations, relevant offers, etc...

So while privacy may an illusion because the majority of consumers willingly share personal data all the time, the way in which advertisers use this data to maintain compliance with privacy guidelines, is quite real.




Hitting the (re)Target Directly