It’s no secret that data privacy is a macro trend that’s here to stay, and with good reason. As social interactions and business operations increasingly take place in digital spaces, users are rightfully concerned about the safety of their sensitive information.
Accordingly, government bodies and security experts have established comprehensive privacy guidelines to ensure the protection of user data. Privacy laws such as GDPR, CCPA, and PECR limit the extent to which websites and businesses can track user activity without explicit consent. While there’s no doubt that this is a win for end users, it may seem like a cause for concern to data-driven marketing teams.
In fact, 73% of GTM teams believe that data privacy regulations will negatively affect their analytical approach to marketing. This article highlights why this is not necessarily true. Let’s explore how privacy-first solutions like Factors empower data-driven marketers to flourish in 2024 and beyond.
Marketers need data to understand and improve the customer experience. This, in turn, results in better conversions and revenue. With data, analytics, and testing marketers can target the right audience with the right message and persuade prospects to become customers. Ideally, it's a win-win situation: marketers spend their budgets efficiently on campaigns that work, and buyers receive relevant promotions as opposed to spammy, spray & pray advertising. In truth, this is nothing new.
Data has been leveraged by marketers and advertisers since the days of Ogilvy, and with sweeping digital transformation, data tracking has become all the more prevalent. For example, mobile phones today constantly transmit precise gro location as a common user identifier across consumer apps. In comparison, B2B tracking has remained relatively benign — yet effective. B2B marketers have the ability to identify companies visiting their website, track their page visits, scroll depth, and other noninvasive metrics to be able to understand and improve the customer experience.
The dawn of privacy-first analytics
So far, this sounds great. However, while the intention with which marketers collect data is rarely malicious, the tools and techniques used in this process have been, until recently, without guardrails.
Fortunately, we’ve been seeing a dramatic improvement in data privacy and security in recent years. Today, privacy-first marketing intelligence and analytics tools (Like Factors 😉) honor privacy principles to ensure that data is used only for its intended purpose — to improve the customer experience. Even widely used tools like Google Analytics are having to rework their architecture to comply with regulations.
With tools like Factors, there’s no risk of data being collected without consent, shared with third-parties, or sold to advertisers. Even with this secure approach, marketers can continue to access everything they need to discover new prospects and optimize their performance without intruding on privacy.
The most important aspect for marketers is to be able to draw the line between reasonable and intrusive tracking. Collection of PII without consent or the ability to identify individual users across websites is illegal and would fall under the latter. As an important practice, marketers should vet their technology vendors keeping this in mind.
That being said, Factors and other privacy-compliant tools are secure by design. Customer information is protected without compromise on the quality of data, analytics, or insights derived. The following sections cover the basics of what you need to know about the most important marketing data privacy regulations — each of which should be considered when investing in marketing technologies.
First-party and third-party cookies play important roles in the collection of user information. Here’s a quick overview of what cookies are and how first-party and third-party cookies differ from each other.
Cookies or HTTP cookies are tiny pieces of data that are sent to your browser from a web server. This data is stored locally on your device so that the next time you visit a website, it can identify you as the same user. So what’s the difference between first and third party cookies?
First-party cookies: FPC are set directly by the website you are browsing. Their primary purpose is to collect analytics data such as page views, button clicks, and form submissions to improve website functionality and enhance user experience. Without first-party cookies, a user would have to sign in to an account every time they visit a new page on the website or app. Even the most basic preferences like language setting would have to be reconfigured on every page without first-party cookies. In short, they’re entirely harmless and collect basic website data to help marketers eliminate areas of friction and improve website usability.
Third-party cookies: Third-party cookies are tracker cookies which are set by third-party servers (or ad servers) independent of the website a user is browsing. Third-party cookies are accessible to any website that can load the server’s script. More often than not, these cookies are used for unsolicited advertising and are set by ad networks like Google’s AdSense program.
Websites that accommodate ad spaces from servers such as Google’s “DoubleClick” also allow them to place third-party cookies. These cookies can track your browser history and identify interests to facilitate retargeting. That way, when you visit a website that also hosts a similar ad server, it will display a targeted advertisement using the same third-party cookies.
Factors.ai only uses first-party cookies to enhance your user experience with zero intention in building an interest profile or a third-party context with first-party cookies. More information on the usage of cookies here. Third party cookies are generally considered to be questionable and in some countries, illegal. This is because there’s no certainty as to what data these cookies are collecting and how that data is being used. Accordingly, it’s best to avoid tools that use third party cookies.
By design, Factors only uses first-party cookies to track visitor activity and enhance user experience. Tools like Factors have no ownership rights over your user data. They do not share or monetize first-party data collected from users in any way, shape or form.
General Data Protection Regulation is a privacy regulation standard that covers data protection andp privacy in the EU and European Economic Area. Under this regulation, businesses are required to receive voluntary or opt-in consent to collect personal information of customers, which needs to be clear and unambiguous.
Personal information is defined by the GDPR as “any information which is related to an identified or identifiable natural person”. Information like IP addresses or any other data that can be traced back to a person is required for analytical purposes will require the user’s consent under the GDPR. This is why you may have noticed several privacy-compliant websites request consent on tracking personal information when you visit.
It is important to note that the consent of collecting personal information cannot be preordained or implied like in the form of pre-ticked boxes. Instead, the user must choose to opt-in to the collection of data and provide adequate detail on the information being tracked.
When complying with the GDPR, businesses must also comply with a set of rights with regards to personal information being collected. These include:
Factors is aligned with GDPR rules and regulations. At present, Factors stores its data in US-based cloud-company servers. Note that the GDPR does not mandate the storage of data of EU citizens and residents within the EU. Additionally, while Factors collects IP addresses for high-level enrichment such as coarse geolocation (city, state-level) and account identification, this data is purged. We do not store IP or firmographic data in our database.
The California Consumer Privacy Act is a state-wide data privacy law that regulates how organizations handle personal information (PI) of California residents. Under the CCPA, the collection of personal information does not require opt-in consent for adults. That being said, just like the GDPR, users under the CCPA have the right to access personal information being collected and the right to opt out of the sale of personal data to third parties.
Factors is CCPA compliant. In fact, by design, we do not have the ability to share, sell, or store personal data to third parties.
The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) represents the UK's law on how businesses are allowed to market to UK consumers using electronic technology. This regulation deals with unsolicited marketing, which includes things like cold calls, fax, text and emails, etc. PECR does not apply to solicited marketing — or marketing messages that are voluntarily requested. Even if a person has opted-in for marketing from your businesses, there are still instances that are defined as unsolicited, which would have to comply with PECR. As a marketer that relies on email marketing, detailed information on the consent must be provided to the person you are emailing. Consent must be received in the form of an action, whether it is written or ticked on a box.
The rules of PECR slightly differ for B2B, where there is an exception to retrieving consent for emails and text messages. If you intend on the processing of personal information of corporate subscribers (B2B) or/and individual subscribers (B2C), the rules of UK GDPR apply.
Surprise, surprise — Factors is also aligned with PECR regulations.
While marketing under the aforementioned regulations would advocate a fair degree of privacy assurance to your users and necessitates consent. A Service Organization Controls 2 or SOC 2 compliance raises the stakes on the safety and confidentiality of customer data. SOC 2 is a set of criteria that define how a business should go about managing customer data and the examination of relevant controls in accordance with those criteria. While it is not legislation for data privacy, an SOC2 certification is the cherry on top of your data privacy practices and the forefront of establishing security standards as a part of being a privacy-first organization. It works on 5 trust principles:
Factors.ai is also SOC2 compliant.
As more intent and uses of personal information by businesses get discovered, postmodern norms for regulation on the safe collection of data gets more rigid. Falling short on the compliance of these regulations will lead to the obstruction of marketing efforts. Here are some reasons as to why marketers should consider becoming privacy-first:
Today, Google Analytics is illegal in Austria, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and other European countries because the CLOUD Act allows US authorities to demand personal data from Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other US providers — even when they’re operating in external locations (like the EU). Regulation will only get more stringent — like the new revisions of the CCPA under the CPRA which goes into more detail on the sharing or disclosure of personal information. Being compliant early will help you stay ahead of the game.
More businesses will need to prioritize being privacy-first by building a decision framework around the management of personal information. This means making data privacy, its regulation, and the control of user data for the long haul the cornerstone of your business and marketing efforts.
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