How to respect privacy and still provide a customized user experience

September 15, 2020

The declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic in March of this year accelerated organizations’ digital transformation processes. This overlapped with a growing shift towards the regulation of users’ online privacy. How can organizations deal with both challenges at the same time?



The acceleration of trends: Digital transformation, user strategies, and privacy protection


Born out of need, thousands of businesses are trying to figure out how to deal with the “new normal,” moving their businesses to the digital world and increasing their presence online. However, what organizations need in order to respond to the new challenges is not only to generate digital touchpoints but also to embark on a process of digital transformation.

What the pandemic has produced is an acceleration of the trend toward business digitalization. However, for this process to be successful, it must be understood as a cultural transformation of the organization. Consumers and clients have also matured; therefore, embarking on a digital transformation process also means rethinking existing strategies and processes. 

One of the most attractive promises of digital channels is the potential to measure practically every interaction, to use the information to customize experiences and to create focused user strategies. However, users are becoming increasingly aware of the protection of their personal information. Meanwhile, a growing number of countries are acknowledging the need to regulate how information is collected, processed, and used.



Cookie policies are not just a pretty banner


Since the European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, new initiatives have emerged year after year around the world, presenting new challenges for organizations. These include the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2019 and the more recent General Data Protection Law (Ley General de Protección de Datos, LGPD) in Brazil. It’s not just countries that are taking measures towards safeguarding users’ privacy; browsers like Firefox, Safari, and Chrome have also taken up the challenge and implemented mechanisms to control how cookies are used to track users’ behavior through different websites.

The most visible consequence of these regulations for users is the proliferation of banners on websites warning about the use of certain cookies and asking users to accept them. However, in order for organizations to adapt to these changes, there needs to be a lot more than a banner notifying users.

Each regulation has specific characteristics. Therefore, these types of measures require organizations to plan their measurement strategy in advance. In other words, they need to perform an assessment of the type of information they collect, how they do it, and for what purposes. This strategy is even more important when it involves global organizations that may be impacted by multiple regulations.



No means no. This involves consent


There are tag management platforms, that with just a few lines of code, allow us to intuitively manage how and when third-party cookies are fired on our digital property. These systems may be a big ally for managing growing regulatory demands, particularly on global sites with multiple audiences. The configuration of a tag management system like Google Tag Manager, along with a privacy preferences center, makes it possible to guarantee that the user is tracked only for what they have given consent and only from the moment such consent is given. Likewise, if the user later modifies their preferences, such an implementation automatically stops their behaviors from being measured.

How does it work? By combining these tools, we can generate an event in the site’s data layer, which allows us to trigger the measurement tools only when the user gives us their consent, and to remain being measured as long as they don’t modify their preferences. Likewise, we can create different types of events for the different types of measurement purposes (for example analytics, retargeting, site functionalities), being able to exactly respect the options chosen by users.

By adopting these types of strategies, we can guarantee that our digital assets comply with the requirements stipulated by legal regulations. In this manner, organizations can avoid falling foul of privacy-related regulations, while reducing maintenance and implementation efforts. But even more important, in a world with increasingly informed consumers, it is a great opportunity to offer a much enhanced customer experience.

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