Customer data privacy: preparing for changes to Google

Cookies will be discontinued from July 2023. Find out how you can future proof your customer data privacy today with Axon Garside’s tips.

Picture of Alison Irlam Alison Irlam

Published: 22 Sep 2022

9 minutes read

Customer data privacy: preparing for changes to Google

While the focus of Inbound22 was building connections and bringing people together, Parish Aggarwal, Head of Ads, Measurement, and Privacy at Google, discussed the future of customer data privacy.

Although it’s important now more than ever to connect with customers, universally we are experiencing privacy fatigue. With privacy banners, consenting to cookies, and opting in part of our daily lives, core changes to privacy rules and regulations makes marketing tricky. But, privacy and performance aren’t at odds—they go hand in hand.

To help businesses adapt to these changes and connect with customers better and more securely than ever before, we’ve distilled down Parish’s knowledge down into three core areas:

  1. The changing digital landscape – why customer data privacy matters
  2. How to drive privacy safe growth using a three-step approach

How the future is changing with respect to privacy, and where to get started


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The changing digital landscape—why customer data privacy matters

In recent years, the digital landscape has shifted significantly. With recent historical data breaches, such as Cambridge Analytics, user privacy has become a common topic within the digital landscape and traditional media.

Although customers want and expect more, after getting used to a high level online service after the pandemic, they do not want this to be at the expense of their data privacy.

A recent survey by Google revealed that two thirds of users do not trust that businesses are doing enough to protect customer's data privacy online. Although this is a significant number of people, this doesn’t mean that customers aren’t willing to part with their data.

Google also discovered that customers are more willing to share their private information, such as email address, with businesses that are responsible with data and will use it to deliver value to them. For example, 90% of customers in the US and Canada would share their information for the right incentive, such as convenience to download an eBook. Similarly, 90% of Gen Z’s and Millennials would also be willing to share their data for personalised brand experiences.

This means that businesses that invest in privacy solutions are more trusted by customers. Going forward, this is the only way businesses can operate. Businesses must respond to meet customers needs. This includes higher standards of advertising privacy, and they must be flexible in two ways:

  1. Able to evolve their practices to meet current and future regulations surrounding how data can be captured and used, maximising customer data privacy.
  2. Making the internal changes to deal with technology changes, such as 3rd Party cookies blocked entirely by Google Chrome in 2023.

    But, why does this matter to your business?

If 3rd Party Cookies are restricted, and you can’t do cross site tracking & not many visitors to your website give your consent, data gaps will appear in your:

  • Measurements, as you won't be able to quantify the effectiveness of your digital advertising, and fewer conversions on your site will be measurable.
  • Audience list, as your 3rd party audience personalisation tools will be defunct, and 1st party data will be sparse because of consent issues.
  • Automated bidding, as downstream advertising bidding will be significantly impacted, and upstream bidding will not be relevant.

If you can’t measure your marketing efforts to find new audiences, and bid on advertising correctly, your business will be at risk.

Although this is a significant challenge for businesses across the world, it presents an opportunity to reinvent your company's privacy structure. And, while it may pose itself as an inconvenience, it’s better to be ahead of the customer data privacy curve than behind it.

Luckily, Google is investing in privacy first solutions to help all businesses pave the way to a privacy first structure, such as:

  • First-party data & infrastructure.
  • Modelling, machine learning and automation.
  • Privacy-preserving aggregated technology, such as a privacy sandbox.

Going forward, first party data, or the data you collect directly from consumers, is at the forefront of this digital revolution, and will help you to create first, unique experiences.


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How to drive privacy safe growth using a three-step approach

Research from Google and the Boston Consultative Group shows that, while a majority of marketers agree that 1st party data is important, only 30% of marketers are collecting and integrating this data cross multiple channels. Even more shocking, only 1% of those marketers believe that they are creating a fully omnichannel marketing experience with that information.

Going forward, this 1st party data, or information that you collect from your customers when they engage with your website or app, is going to be essential to creating personalised marketing experiences.

While this may seem like a complex build process, you simply have to:


1. Build

In order to build a strong foundation for your 1st party data, you need to understand where data is coming from, and where users are moving across your site. To do this, every business will need site wide tagging.

Site wide tagging is applied to every page on your website, and helps collect data for your marketing campaigns, such as where the user came from, what they interacted with, and what they didn’t. This can help you build more meaningful and impactful campaigns.

Tools, such as Google Tag Manager, can easily capture customer data for you, and is seamlessly integrated with HubSpot. To do so, you simply need to link your Google Tag Manager account, click the ‘apply site tagging’ button, and it will be applied across all of your pages.

As cookies are being phased out, starting to collect this data now and implementing a strong foundation will help you iron out the creases before the big 2023 switch off.


2. Measure

Measuring your marketing, sales and service allows businesses to create more relevant and durable campaigns. But, with cookies being phased out, the measurement landscape is changing.

To future-proof your measurement process, all businesses must invest in multiple technologies. The technology you invest in will depend on your size and sector, but should include machine modelling.

Machine learning will help you fill the gaps in your data before cracks are starting to show. This works by using AI to understand where data is coming from, and what may not be being picked up by your cookies. This will enhance your web conversions by securely tracking user information, such as purchases on the web, without cookies. Data is then collected in your CRM.

This is even important now, with 76% of users ignoring cookie banners.

As user consent laws change, having the ability to change content based on a user’s content status, such as personalisation features across your site, will help you stay compliant while still tracking user conversions.

Ultimately, these will help you to unlock a more complete measurement, that respects users choices while still giving your business a privacy-focused measurement.

An easy way your business can prepare for this change is by switched to Google Analytics 4 (of GA4). While you may already be using Google Analytics, this will be discontinued by July 2023.

GA4 will use machine modelling to provide business with better insight with predictive audiences, advanced reporting, and user level controls. Google is working with HubSpot to ensure that this will be migrated into the HubSpot Marketing Hub, so you can seamlessly integrate your analytics with a single click.


3. Automate

With machine learning at the forefront of customer data privacy modelling, it should be no surprise that automation will also help you make the most of your 1st party data.

Automation will be crucial to create successful ad bidding. For example, businesses that combine 1st first party data to smart bidding see a 27% increase in conversion volume when combined with non-last-click attribution.

Similarly, Google Customer Match will help you reach your users, re-engage your existing customers, and discover a new audience with advertising by understanding your 1st party data. Once uploaded into the system, Google then hashes the data, and matches it with the information stored in Google. Now, you will have a better understanding of how to:

  • Reach those users on different platforms.
  • Re-engage previous customers with more relevant campaigns.
  • Discover new audiences with similar interests in places they will likely be online.

Need tips on how to speak to your customers, which campaigns will be relevant, and how to grab a new audience's attention? Learn everything you need to know about developing a strong user outreach strategy in our free download ‘the ultimate guide to online B2B lead generation’. Download now >


How to prepare for the future of customer data privacy

Ultimately, the privacy sphere is changing. Businesses need to be flexible in order to deal with these changes.

While we can’t predict everything that will happen with privacy laws, there are three things we do know:

  • The future is consent. There’s going to be significant need for transparency and control for users. This includes consent banners and other tools that will help users indicate tracking.
  • The future is aggregated. Cookies will continue to degrade as we move towards a more clustered measurement solution. Only aggregated data will be used for measurements and user segregation.
  • The future is modelled. Observing conversions will decrease, and so the reliance on automated modelling will increase. It’s important to monitor how modelling and computer learning techniques will evolve in the next few years and see how we can move digitally.

While this might seem in the distant future, businesses need to prepare for these changes now.

Google found that companies who invest in building customer trust have seen a 270% increase in their ROI. Being a trustworthy partner now will only give you further advantage as we near the digital switch, as you will be:

  • Industry leaders, setting a high bar for other companies in your sector. Plus, customers are more drawn to brands who are leaders in customer data privacy.
  • Future proofing your business, helping to fill marketing measurement gaps with Google’s modelling processes and elevating your efforts.
  • Taking early advantage of new technologies, giving AI models the time they need to gather the right data, learn from it, and optimise before the big switch.

While having the right tools in place to measure your marketing performance, you also need to understand how to grow leads online.

As technologies and online policy rules change, so does user behaviour. In the last two years alone, we’ve seen a greater reliance on websites, online campaigns and inbound strategies to grow business and generate leads. As we progress, this reliance on the internet will only increase.

So, while policy laws may get stricter, it’s also crucial that businesses understand how to grow and develop strong online marketing campaigns. This will generate more revenue, while minimising the amount of time your sales team spend with customers, and can identify marketing qualified leads with ease.

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While you future-proof your monitoring systems, it’s time to review your lead generation strategy,

Learn everything you need to know about online lead generation, from creating an omnichannel experience to managing & maintaining marketing campaigns, by downloading your copy of ‘the complete guide to online B2B lead generation’.

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