Cookies, Privacy & User Data

Businesses understand the value of the data they collect about customers. Firms can predict sales trends, send out targeted advertising, and improve their products through this data. However, for consumers, data collection is a privacy invasion and a practice that can be abused easily, leading to the suspicion of many businesses. Furthermore, for data collection, web developers now use cookies to offer convenient website visits, but it’s a vulnerability to your privacy.

What are cookies?
Cookies are small files that are sent to your devices to monitor and remember specific information about you, such as your login information, details about your shopping cart, etc.

Why do companies use cookies?
Cookies let a business owner recognize users and recall their individual preferences, such as politics versus sports news. They’re also used to customize advertising to personalize user sessions. Moreover, e-commerce businesses use cookies to track items customers previously viewed to suggest other relevant goods.

How the EU has set the stage with its groundbreaking GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requirements
GDPR regulates the way businesses manage and process personal data. After 25 May 2018, GDPR constituted the greatest change to the EU’s data protection rules in over two decades. The GDPR rules apply to the companies if they use personal data and are based in the EU. Personal data includes name, numbers, health records, location, banking, income information, cultural preferences, etc. GDPR allows firms to use personal data under certain conditions and forces them to implement additional security measures like strong encryption.

What upcoming changes we can expect in the US
The CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) passed on 1 January 2020, and industry experts considered it a landmark piece of user privacy rights legislation, as it needed specific businesses to disclose all personal data they have about a user whenever that user requests. Now, California, Colorado, and Virginia are only the tip of the iceberg. Given that multiple states have some kind of consumer privacy legislation at some stage of proposal or consideration, enterprises can expect several other states to enact new privacy legislation. This will, however, become a nightmare for marketers if we have to deal with a patchwork of laws from state to state; what, in essence, will be needed is a national consumer privacy act to make it easier for marketers to operate.

Marketers should focus on cookieless targeting
As more tech companies start to eliminate 3rd party cookie tracking, advertisers must be prepared to rely more on cookieless tactics to segment and target potential audiences to provide them a personalized experience and leverage data for informed future decision-making.

Is it possible to do cookieless targeting?
The online advertising landscape has been focusing its attention mainly on cookie-based targeting. However, advances in AI and machine learning have opened up numerous opportunities for intelligent targeting, which doesn’t require user-profiling and is privacy-friendly. One way to do this is contextual targeting, which provides marketers the opportunity to view and react in real-time to insights acquired from live content consumption. This dynamic data will help target and scale campaigns just as efficiently as a cookie-based targeting method.

What are Consumer Responsibilities?
Cybercrime is a huge business; therefore, as a consumer, it’s essential to learn about the data organizations collect about you and how they use the data to earn revenue (in many cases, they sell and share your data with 3rd party companies which you may be unaware of the relationship and scope of the data-sharing agreements).

Moreover, to limit tracking – clear your cookies regularly, minimize the use of browser extensions and ad-ons, turn off cross-site tracking in your browser, and use privacy-oriented browsers and search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Brave. And when you navigate to a site and see this type of message, don’t be afraid to click ‘Manage Cookies / Do Not Sell My Personal Information to gain slight control of the amount of data being tracked about your browsing habits.

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Key Takeaways
• Consumers are wising up to the dangers of data misuse – companies can lose their audience if they fail to protect user data.
• Specific data privacy regulations differ from state to state; however, core principles include transparency, accountability, and confidentiality.
• Consumers are not off the hook and are indeed accountable for their data protection.


Rolanda Gregory ©2022
All Rights Reserved.

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