by D&E Staff

May 11, 2021

The release of iOS 14.5 and increasing adoption of general data protection regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) policies have tossed the marketing and advertising worlds into a blurry landscape. You don’t have to fully grasp buzzwords like big data, user tracking, audience segmentation, attribution, targeting (and retargeting) to sense the growing anxiety that these new privacy guardrails have spawned.

This brief blog isn’t an outline detailing how these guardrails will change website and app function – there’s reams of existing info provided by the 800-pound gorillas of the industry that can explain it better; but we are here to tell you that it will be ok. Sometimes it’s hard to remember in this digital age that advertising has been around long before JavaScript gave us pixels and tags, gifting us myriad ways to exploit data.

I’d like to recenter the conversation around the human element that we at D&E think has faded away from some corners of our industry. Successful communication efforts, both paid for and not, involve much more than sophisticated algorithms, click trackers and commodified audience segments. Without getting too heady, we think it’s about understanding ourselves and others as human animals, what makes us tick without making assumptions or judgements (hint, we’re a lot more alike than not). Sure, tucked in there is the unceasing need to look cool or make a buck, but we believe that the heart of all communication is empathy (Don Draper would call it “happiness,” but we know that dude was both misguided and short on empathy…).

With that table setting out of the way, below are our thoughts on what it will take to succeed in a world with less data at our fingertips.

  • Everyone should start weening themselves off their reliance on “big data” platforms and not worry so much that sunsetting our hyper-targeted programs will deflate the bottom line.
  • Why not worry? All organizations will be hobbled in the same ways, but the ways around these obstacles will require more thought, planning and customization instead of selecting a few “interest segments” and turning on a campaign.
  • No one can predict the result of having less access to marketing data – our bet is everyone needs to start developing flexible backup plans, wait and see what happens and adapt from there.
  • Speaking of adapting, it’s also a safe bet that organizations that navigate these changes successfully will have found ways to reinvent traditional media buying processes for use on the web and in-app.
    • For us this means research, brand studies, incentivized surveys, employee and customer interviews, plus hiring people from diverse backgrounds that will broaden our perspective and processes.

So, how can you get a leg up in this brave new world? Our way will involve curiosity about our industry, compassion for our neighbors and confidence that people have remained their human selves (with the same human needs) during a time of unparalleled technological advancement. If you want to join us in welcoming the new old ways, give us a call.