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Data Privacy: The Ethical Dilemma Within Digital Marketing

Consumers are becoming more aware of the actions taken by the companies they buy from. A company’s social responsibility to its community is under more scrutiny than ever before. People are looking to connect with businesses on a personal level and build relationships on shared values. If the values match up, consumers take notice and brand loyalty is born. However, the reverse is true. Consumers will demand change if their values aren’t being reflected in your business. 

This can be seen clearly in the question of data ethics. Data privacy has become increasingly important to people, especially in this digital and virtual world we are adapting to. People want their data private and protected, but some businesses survive on using this data. So, with this mismatch in values, what does the future look like for data collection? How will brands and companies adjust to consumer’s growing interest in the topic? Is there an easy fix? Keep reading to find out!

The Problem

Companies can’t just snap their fingers and stop using consumer’s personal data. Entire businesses are built on a revenue model that requires the collection and distribution of data. Without this, they would fail to make a profit. It’s like asking an ice cream shop to stop selling ice cream. However, for some, the demands for change outweigh the titanic effort it takes to evolve their business. Therefore many have decided to pivot to survive in this new climate.

Advertisers have also become very dependent on this data. It has enabled them to create relevant and timely ads to target consumers. The reason why you see an ad for those shoes you really wanted, ten seconds after mustering the willpower to close the website tab, is because advertisers are using your data to make informed decisions about who to target. Without this data, the advertising industry would be sent back to the dark ages of blindly sending ads out, hoping to reach the right person.

Brands Leading the Change

One of the largest data collectors is Google. This company has built an empire based on its perfected method of data collection. Google certainly hears the demands for change and has been working on a new way to ensure privacy, while maintaining the ability to collect data. Before, consumers were tracked using cookies that capture data. Now, with Google’s new method called “FLoC” (Federated Learning of Cohorts), consumers are grouped with other random individuals to better secure their data. This grouping helps you hide in plain sight, while also allowing Google to make a generalization based on the group’s overall data. The company will still use your data, but now it can’t be directly connected to you.

Another brand taking data privacy seriously is Apple. While Google works around the data privacy issue by providing more security, Apple will stop it all together. Apple has promised to work on software updates that will allow the iPhone user to prevent apps from tracking them and sending targeted ads. This software update would significantly hurt advertisers. However, companies like Facebook are already looking for ways around it. Some ideas have ranged from updated payment models on their platform to ad notifications directly from the app. The real issue is the uncertainty of when exactly we’ll see widespread use of this update. Companies are obviously already trying to adapt, but did they start too late?

Data privacy is a hot topic and one that is constantly changing. New developments are being created each day. Whether you’re a consumer concerned about your data privacy or an advertiser worried about losing that data, it’s very important to stay up to date. Follow SRB’s social media to stay informed on the marketing news, so you don’t miss out on the latest advancements in the industry.