Putting Privacy First: Repairing Consumer Mistrust with Data Protection Practices

In today’s climate, there is much debate over who should collect and “track” consumers online. As trust becomes the new currency, the issue of consumer privacy has shifted from an industry-led discussion to a discussion driven by the global regulatory and tech communities. How consumers’ personal data is collected, shared, and applied, and how consent varies across regions, has created a mistrust between advertisers and their consumers.

While many laws and regulations have been established, there is no US federal law that governs how consumer data is handled. Additionally, the vast majority of regulations around tech are outdated and/or inconsistent.

So how do we solve for the lack of standardization and regulation?

Consumers are becoming their own Chief Data Officers

Consumers now have more power over their own data through a decentralized identity framework. Decentralized identity is a trust framework where identifiers (i.e. private keys) are only known to the owner. These identifiers are replaced with independent IDs that enable a data exchange using blockchain technology, which protects their privacy through identity validation and data verification. Once paired with a decentralized identity, a user can authenticate his or her identity and access certain services. They can then choose what information they give to whom, when, and for what price.

In the absence of standardized data collection practices, many are tapping into decentralized identity frameworks, such as The Data Privacy Protocol Alliance (DPPA), which is comprised of data aggregators, privacy advocates, brands, agencies, and advertising platforms. It works as a collective to set standards its members must adhere to in order to ensure that consent-based privacy is operating the same across them all. They currently base their infrastructure on blockchain so that consumers can own their data and have tools to control how their data is stored, shared, and exchanged for value in an efficient and transparent way.

Other foundations, such as Trust Over IP (ToIP), have also emerged as the interest in decentralized digital trust infrastructure shows no signs of slowing down. Browsers, such as Brave, have created Web Discovery Project, a privacy-preserving system for consumers to anonymously contribute data to improve Brave Search coverage and quality. In turn, Brave pays consumers for their attention. With each of these solutions, the common goal is to remain consumer-first and provide an equal monetary value-based exchange.

What does this mean for marketers?

It is no longer about data; it’s about consumers. Marketing strategy will need to be powered by a solid privacy-by-design experience, most of which will be centered on explicit consent. Marketers will need to tell consumers what they want before the point of collection, what their data will be used for, and what value they will get for it. This means we will need to include partners that implement consent-based data collection, or allow room for vendors in this alternative identity space. Another approach could be to join a governing body to engage consumers creatively with a value exchange based on what a marketer has to offer. Choosing these practices can help marketers ensure consumers’ data will be safe from data leaks or fraud, and begin to re-establish trust.

The Zenith Data Platforms and Solutions team continues to ensure marketers are more informed about these alternative data collection. We help clients establish privacy-safe data collection and ID management, and work with them to build audience strategies that include consent-based privacy. We continue to push the industry to establish trust with consumers, and creating an unequivocal loyalty base that can be scaled in this ever-changing ad tech ecosystem.

Published by Amaya Jhaver

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