Building trust: How marketers can thrive in a privacy-first world

Posted on Monday 24 April 2023 | Claire Norburn - UK ads privacy lead, Google

Claire Norburn, UK ads privacy lead at Google, shares the five key steps to prioritise privacy within marketing

As more people shop, work, and live their lives online, businesses are entrusted with ever more valuable personal data - and a greater responsibility to keep it safe. 
For marketers who put privacy first, the benefits are clear: users who feel in control of their personal data are three times more likely to react positively to advertising and twice as likely to find it relevant1. Brands that don’t give privacy the attention it deserves risk losing the trust of their customers and damaging their reputations.  

In a study of 20,000 people across Europe, 43% said they’d switch from their preferred brand to a second-choice brand if the latter provided a good privacy experience2. When privacy is put first, customers feel more in control, more willing to trust companies, and more willing to share their data. 
With consumer expectations changing and regulations becoming increasingly complex, privacy isn’t a simple or linear journey - but it’s a journey that the entire business needs to be on. Below, we’ll explore best practices for a privacy-first strategy built on collaboration and communication.  

Creating a culture of collaboration 

Companies are most successful when digital transformation isn’t just the remit of one executive but when the entire C-suite is aligned. This is particularly critical when it comes to privacy. 
A privacy-centric strategy needs input from all areas to deliver better experiences for customers and value to the business, and key stakeholders should be encouraged to work together to deliver it. For example, a CMO will need to collaborate closely with peers in legal and IT. Each will have their own responsibilities, but the organisation’s privacy practices will run more smoothly if it’s a team endeavour. 

As one marketing leader recently told us: “It’s about legal having a marketing point of view and vice versa. The earlier you bring in different teams, the more effective the process will be. There are responsibilities on both sides, but everything becomes much easier when you share the same culture.” 

Having that culture established and underpinning decisions can pay off in financial terms too: research from Cisco showed that the most privacy-mature organisations are averaging returns of 1.97x, compared with 1.53x for the least privacy-mature. 

Communicating for change 

The changing privacy environment represents one of the most significant shifts in the relatively short history of digital advertising. Change on this scale and conflicting team priorities can cause friction, but this can be mitigated with consistent messaging. 

With this in mind, it’s helpful to have a sponsor who can spread a coherent privacy message and get everyone on board through the entire organisation — and the more senior, the better. As one lead speaker advised at Google’s recent U.K. Privacy Forum, “make the CEO the sponsor to set that culture and push the importance of privacy”. 

A strong narrative and understanding of privacy enable teams to speak the same language and work towards shared goals. It’s also crucial in making that shift from data protection being something that “has to be done” to it becoming a brand attribute. 

Proactive not reactive 

A privacy-first approach to marketing is essential for meeting both customer expectations and marketing goals. By putting privacy at the centre of your decision-making, you can ensure your digital marketing is future-ready. 

The ideal outcome is data handling focused on exceeding customer expectations rather than just meeting legal requirements. By being proactive not reactive, this should put businesses on the front foot for future changes — and delight customers in the process. 

AI powered solutions can help to fill any gaps and give you the most complete picture possible of your advertising campaigns. But by putting privacy first, customers feel more in control, more willing to trust companies, and more willing to share their data. Ultimately, this means marketers are more likely to see significant performance benefits and deliver on that key goal: privacy-safe growth

5 key actions for privacy-first marketing 

  • Build first-party data that is private by design 

    Data, such as email addresses and customer purchase history, is accurate and, when protected correctly, privacy-safe. Harness it to deliver more personalised experiences.  
  • Engage legal and tech teams 

    Privacy-first marketing requires a cross-functional approach. Consult key partners in legal and IT during both the development and implementation of your privacy strategy. 
  • Explain how data will be used

    Consumers are more likely to share their data with businesses they trust. Give them control and be transparent about how you collect and use data 
  • Get support from the top 

    Senior leaders need to be on board with privacy initiatives and provide the resources necessary to make it successful 
  • Preserve performance with machine learning 

    Make the most of your first-party data using modelling and AI to measure and optimise your campaigns in a privacy-first way. 

Written by

Claire Norburn

UK ads privacy lead, Google


Related content

person talking

IAB UK introduces series exploring trust & effectiveness in digital 

Learn more

The personification of digital media

Learn more

The Building Blocks of Quality Media: steps to make the most of your next creative campaign

Learn more

Why it’s time to stop thinking of ‘digital’ as a channel

Learn more

Rediscover the joy of digital advertising

Champion connections instead of clicks. Capture audiences' imaginations, not just their attention. Boldly move to your own beat instead of letting tech set the pace. It’s time to rediscover the joy of digital.