Monique Ruiz
Director of Marketing

Beyond The Episode: Solving the Dilemma of Personalization vs. Privacy

The July episode of The Marketing Insider | A Claritas Podcast went live on July 21st. You can find the episode, Solving the Dilemma of Personalization vs. Privacy here. During the recording, I spoke with the CTO of Claritas, Al Gadbut. We were also joined by Ben Isaacson, Principal at In-House Privacy.

We took listeners through a real look at the current privacy laws and what they mean for your business when it comes to customer identity resolution. Most importantly though, we shared the non-negotiable steps you need to take as a marketer to ensure ongoing privacy compliance. But, while you’ll hear all about those topics and more when you listen to the episode, 30 minutes just wasn’t enough to discuss everything. Because of this, we took some of the conversation offline and put it in this blog.

How Consumers Can Get Proactive About Protecting Their Online Identities

While the focus of the episode might have been around marketers and their quest to navigate the privacy landscape, it is important for consumers to also take charge of their online identities. Al highlights that the best thing you can do as an individual, is be more aware. If you access free, online content, rather than exchanging money, you’re likely exchanging your contact information.

Some states have data brokerage laws that require registration for data brokers. Consumers have the right to access those lists and opt out. That said, if you don’t want to be on said list, the feeling is probably mutual. It doesn’t help any party involved to have access to consumers who don’t want a brand’s advertising. Al goes as far as to say some data brokers actively find people that want to opt out. This ensures a clean database of potential prospects for advertisers.

The “Big Brother” Stigma

Have you ever visited a website of a company selling a product you’re interested in, but leave without making a purchase or signing up for their mailing list? We have all done that, but later you’ll often see an ad promoting those very items you were viewing. That’s because that company has likely leveraged identity graph technology to de-anonymize you as a website visitor for ad retargeting. What sounds like a miracle solution for marketers often faces scrutiny over whether it skirts the wrong side of the personalization vs. privacy line. Al assures us that not only is this a compliant way to reach consumers, but it’s also an effective one – just look to Claritas’ case studies for confirmation!

All laws that pertain to consumer rights and privacy revolve around transparency of that information and the right to opt out. Think about your iPhone, if you have one. Since the release of iOS 14.5, when you open apps, you likely see a message essentially asking if you want to be tracked. While you can opt out, the request to track is really just to provide a better consumer experience. The same goes for other types of ad retargeting. Their purpose is to weed out marketing noise and reduce the need to market to everyone “equally.” What does that mean? Well, Al gives an example using monster trucks. He is not particularly interested in them, so seeing advertisements for monster truck rallies is wasted on him. Instead, if marketers create target segments of consumers that are interested in these events, they can advertise efficiently and cost effectively. The idea of “equal” advertising might sound positive on the surface, but it doesn’t take into consideration individual consumer preferences.

Digital Advertising is Here to Stay

Digital advertising isn’t going away any time soon. It drives the availability of free and open content. Throwing up paywalls limits accessibility and your pool of prospects. Al emphasizes that’s not the kind of environment we want to be in. The goal is to create an efficient marketplace of mutually beneficial exchanges. Consumers access content information, in return for just a little bit of information about themselves. That helps the market improve its knowledge of how to provide better consumer experiences. There will always be those that don’t want to be tracked, but laws are now in place to provide that choice.

Adopting Privacy as a Policy Across Your Organization

Once you have a strategy for compliance, how do you ensure adoption across your entire organization? For most companies, the board and senior executives decide how to approach privacy. Al cautions that liabilities are too great to not be aware of or take mitigating steps to ensure compliance. That’s why it’s important to have someone like a Chief Privacy Officer on staff or work with privacy consultants. It is their job to know what data is being collected, bought, or rented. They also maintain responsible sourcing and care for data. That’s in addition to keeping the organization away from potential risks and communicating best practices internally.

When your internal organization actively participates in privacy conversations, everyone wins. It helps drive internal review processes, creates documentation of compliance, and helps with streamlining. Besides, if you’re not using or don’t need certain data, why even take the risk of keeping it around? It won’t help you build value.

What Do You Need to Prepare For, When Do You Need to Prepare By, and Why Do You Need to Prepare?

One major concern of marketers is whether regulations limit or even eliminate their ability to offer 1:1, personalized marketing. With numerous states trying to pass laws, in addition to what’s brewing at the federal level, how can the average marketer stay on top of everything? In-House Privacy’s Ben Isaacson says sadly there is no silver bullet answer. The fact is, there are 50 states, which means there will probably be 50 state privacy laws at some point. While large corporations like Facebook are pouring ad dollars into supporting federal laws, the best thing companies can do right now is work with professionals in the privacy field. It’s their job to worry about the things that keep you up at night and provide the best path forward for ongoing compliance.

We hope July’s episode of The Marketing Insider helped make the dilemma of personalization vs. privacy a little less intimidating. Thank you again to our guests Al Gadbut and Ben Isaacson for providing your wealth of knowledge, and if you listened to the episode, we thank you as well. If you want to meet better prospects, market more precisely and improve your ROI, contact us by visiting

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