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Privacy and the Modern Marketer

If you missed my predictions for marketing and privacy in 2022 last month, you can find them here. You can also find a host of other expert opinions on what 2022 will bring from my colleagues at Biznology.

In predicting that things will get both better and worse for marketers in the coming year — talk about hedging your bets — it is fair to say that small businesses are facing a scarier digital marketing world that the “big boys” will largely avoid. The largest of marketers will have enough first-party data to keep their marketing machines humming. Marketers who rely on third-party data are going to have a tougher time of things, as seen in the recent moves by Apple and Google in this area.

Eliminating cookies is either long overdue or a death knell depending on your perspective. I’m sure they’ve been abused, but in the main, I’d rather see ads for ladders (when I am in the market for a way to get into my attic safely) than for dance lessons. (Not that I don’t need dance lessons. I’ve simply resigned myself to being a terrible dancer …)

Yes, it’s annoying when I keep seeing ladder ads long after I’ve bought the ladder, but serving ads that are personalized in this way is generally beneficial for both buyers and sellers. Issues arise though when we start looking at the “creepy” factor.

For example, if I do searches and visit websites for rowing machines on my computer, tablet, or phone, I expect to see ads related to that activity on all three devices, even if I only did the search on one of them. But when my wife starts getting ads for rowing machines, that definitely feels creepy and weird. Is it because we’re on the same WiFi network? Sharing an IP address on our network? Is someone listening in to our conversations via Siri, Google, or Alexa?

That’s the kind of stuff that people on the receiving end push back against and that finds big tech in the crosshairs at Congressional hearings. (Where fear, uncertainty, and doubt all take center stage as too many legislators show exactly how uninformed they are on these issues.) And smaller marketers like us become collateral damage.

As smaller marketers, we don’t have any real ability to change this system, but we can make high standards for privacy and data protection competitive advantages.

These advantages likely won’t last forever — eventually we’ll all be forced to toe the line, I think — but in the short term, you can set your firm apart by making it clear that you value the privacy of your prospects and clients, and pledge to protect the information they entrust you with.

It’s no great prognostication to say that the marketing world will grow increasingly digital and increasingly regulated. With luck, as regulations increase, there will be more consistency and compliance will be easier than it is with the current patchwork of jurisdictions, definitions, and rules. Making the effort to build systems and processes to stay ahead of the regulatory curve can pay marketing benefits today and in the future.

Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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