Data Privacy in Online Marketing: What Is Changing & How to Adapt?

Published on : 28 May 2024

Data Privacy in online Marketing

Thanks to digital innovations, we can easily connect online, but they also leave us increasingly vulnerable and exposed.68% of consumers are concerned about the volume of data businesses collect about them, with 40% expressing a lack of trust in companies’ ethical handling of data. Therefore, it’s no surprise that data privacy regulations are constantly improving.

Major updates are on the horizon! What are they, and how will they dictate new rules for businesses handling consumer data? Naturally, changes always prompt questions, and this case is no different. In this post, we will address some of those questions while exploring what the new data privacy regulations mean for online marketing. Let’s examine how you can adapt to these changes without losing your competitive edge.”

Let’s Talk Numbers: The Impact of Privacy in Online Marketing

Data Privacy online marketing key findings

Source: Cisco

Privacy in marketing, particularly data protection, is increasingly becoming a hot topic. People are becoming more aware of the extent to which companies know about their lives and are concerned about how this data is used and who has access to it. Here’s what the numbers are telling us:

  • 73% of US consumers are worried about data safety, especially the risk of identity theft and misuse of data. For most in this group, brand trust is low, with a higher suspicion of data being collected without their knowledge.
  • According to a Cisco survey 90% of customers admit they won’t buy from organizations that fail to protect their private data.
  • Additionally, 94% of companies acknowledge that customers won’t buy from them if data protection is not assured.

Building trust with customers largely depends on how you collect and handle their personal data. However, building brand trust and lasting loyalty requires more than that. Visibility is crucial, especially for companies operating in specific regions.

The more solid social proof a brand has, the higher its credibility, and backlinks play a crucial role here. However, many businesses struggle with this, especially when expanding abroad. For instance, targeting British clients requires focusing on local SEO and leveraging the help of agencies like Links Management agency for backlinks from UK websites.

This approach ensures you receive endorsements from relevant local sites, ultimately boosting your search rankings and driving more website traffic. Nonetheless, even high search engine credibility won’t suffice if your data privacy policy is inadequate. Therefore, ensure you prioritize data privacy compliance.

Changes to Privacy and Their Impact on Data in Marketing

First, it was the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) policy. Then came the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020. And now, we have the Google cookie depreciation and the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

It is easy to get lost in all these policy updates. So, the main question is, “How do all of these influence the access companies have to consumers’ data?” Let’s see.

#1 The Google Cookie Depreciation

Main changes:

  • Google is disabling third-party cookies to limit cross-site tracking.
  • You will need cookie consent mode v2.
  • It’s time to roll out zero and first-party data collection.

Google will begin phasing out third-party cookies on Google Chrome. For a long time, marketers were happy to use cookies and other sources to collect marketing data like age, user location, search trends and browse history with the aim of crafting better-targeted ads.

And what now? The party is over. Google changed all that and left many puzzled about what to do now. It complicates several marketing processes. But here is good news – this change does not affect first-party cookies used on your site to collect simple information, like how people engage with your website.


#2 Digital Markets Act

Main changes:

  • More opportunities for smaller businesses and startups.
  • Reduced compliance costs for gatekeepers (aka big online platforms and search engines that connect businesses and customers).
  • More restrictions on how companies handle user data for advertising.

Implemented in November 2022 and effective since May 2023, the DMA is designed to give consumers a lot more control than they have now. How is that? Well, the regulation gives people freedom of choice since smaller businesses and startups can now join and compete successfully in the digital marketing space.

How will this affect marketing data? Unlike before, businesses will now face stronger restrictions on how they collect, use, and share consumer data. So, your website will need to be equipped with the right privacy tools and take steps to address any consumer concerns in a way that complies with the DMA. But that’s not all. It will also affect how Google displays search results in the affected regions.

Data Privacy in Digital Marketing:  How to Adapt to Changes and Prepare for the Future

The first step of adaptation is to understand exactly what you have to do, meaning – how should you address all these changes? Here are six major things you should pay attention to:

#1 Consult With a Competent Legal Team

This is boring but truly logical advice. In fact, this should be the first stage of your plan. Professionals can help you understand how everything works in practice. Besides, remember that every industry will always have its peculiarities. So, it might be hard to find niche-specific information online.

Make sure you ask that legal team about the platforms you use and whether those are compliant. Take your time to review everything in order to avoid any issues. After analyzing this, take a look at your marketing strategy and adjust if needed.

#2 Ensure You Comply With the Google Changes

As basic as that sounds, check if your cookie banner is up to par with Google’s requirements. Most likely, the only thing you will need to do is to enable consent mode in your banner settings if you are using a Google-approved consent management platform.

It is absolutely essential, especially if you run Google Ads. Because the failure to comply with the Google consent mode v2 will affect your PPC (and, as you can imagine, not in a good way). So you want to get that out of the way.

#3 Leverage First-Party Data

It’s now harder to rely on third-party data, so your focus should be on how to make the most out of the information you still have access to, which is first-party data. What this means is that you need to collect data directly from the source (your consumers) with their consent. You will need to come up with a strategy that encourages visitors to share their data with you, whether it’s freebies, exclusive content, etc.

A good idea to integrate might be to create a landing page with a lead magnet or an exclusive live event. Still, it will only work if your content is extremely (we mean it, extremely) useful and valuable. Just gathering some info online and putting it in a PDF won’t do. Let alone “outsourcing” this task to AI.

#4 Be Transparent

Online privacy and safety in marketing are big deals nowadays. Surprise-surprise. Two-thirds of consumers around the world believe that tech companies have too much control over their data. Most want to know what these companies do with the information at their disposal. But they couldn’t really know that.

But now, things seem to change. At least, you will need to be more transparent about how you collect private data, what you collect, how you use it, and who has access to it. Ensure that each piece is processed within the legal limits and only collect what you need and, most importantly, what you can!

Nobody likes a creep and a stalker. So, if you are using any AI or third-party tools, you must disclose what personal data it collects and how it uses that. You will also need to share what you do to ensure that your online data privacy is in place.

It might seem like a headache. But look at it differently. It is your way to build more trust and make people less anxious about consenting to share their data with you. If they believe that you are responsible, they will share their data much easier without feeling like you are stealing something from them.

#5 Choose the Right Data Privacy Tools

Responsible Innovation

Source: Cisco 2024 Data Privacy Benchmark Study

Marketing tools (e.g., automated chatbots) already come with built-in AI functionality. Even now, there are many data privacy tools cropping up in response to all the recent changes. This shows how much we actually need AI regulation in the digital marketing ecosystem.

If you decide to use any new data privacy tool, first check to see if it’s compliant with the new policy (try to look beyond the cool features and a good offer). Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) can help you understand whether your new software is a good fit.

#6 Explore User-Centric Ads Tactics

Your ads should be relevant. They should be seamless. If your advert comes out of the blue, it is anything but user-centric. Plus, it is rarely compliant, either. In the age of UGC, your customers don’t want to see random messages. They want to feel understood. Of course, ads are irritating by their nature. But it doesn’t mean your advertising has to be like that. Well, this is definitely easier said than done, yet it is so worth it.

Still, to make it work, you need an organized workflow. There are many project management models you can try. Yet, Agile is one of the most popular ones. Why? Because it perfectly fits into our constantly changing world. Learn more about how Agile project management can help you hike your performance rates by up to 250%.

How to Keep Up With New Data Privacy Guidelines

Innovations changed our lives. No doubt! Look even at all the diversity in tech with people from different backgrounds building their digital careers and creating new thriving businesses all over the world.

But these innovations have another side, a dark(-ish) side. Why is that? Anything digital comes with risks – data exposure, cyber threats, identity fraud, and this list goes on and on. We can’t fix it all. But there are elementary precautions we can implement to see great changes:

  1. Know your stuff. You have to know what you’re doing. Data protection can’t exist without accurate knowledge. Plus, to ensure fewer casualties and human errors, every team member you have needs proper data privacy training. Every team member. No matter what they do.
  2. Cybersecurity is the foundation. Whatever you do, make data privacy the basis. Getting new software? Find out whether it’s compliant. Looking into links purchased for advertising? Make sure the source is spam-free and won’t hurt your backlink profile. Question everything, especially marketing-related.
  3. Documentation is key. Always keep updated records of all access requests, compliance issues, data breaches, and actions taken to fix the issues. And their backups. Ideally, follow a 3-2-1 backup strategy.
  4. Keep an eye on updates. Apart from keeping all your systems updated (which is crucial for cybersecurity), make sure you know every adjustment in regulations.


Focusing on consumers’ data privacy in digital marketing is no longer an optional strategy. It is a must. Yes, it might sound overwhelming. Well, it is quite overwhelming, actually. But only at first. Once you have your system in place, it will get much easier. Besides, what other options do we have?

Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QPA, PCI QSA, PCI SSF ASSESSOR, CISSP, CISA, CRISC, 27001 LA) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.