I had the incredible privilege of talking at the esteemed brightonSEO for their online Summer 2021 conference on the 23rd of July. Over one thousand, two hundred people tuned into it - a fact that incredibly humbled me. In my session, we talked about data privacy - our responsibility to our clients in an account management relationship, the leading data privacy highlights & conversation toolkits to prepare your clients for the upcoming cookieless world almost upon us.
Account Manager's Role in Client Relationship
I started my session by talking about the importance of maintaining a great client relationship with a client. I expessed this through five key practices that all account managers should be doing - listed in this picture above. This section of my talk is based on a previous blog I wrote, which can be found here.
Next, we get to the catalysts of the whole "we need to go cookie-less" discussions/actions.
Between 2014 and 2017, several companies that held many people's personal information were hacked. iCloud was hit as well as Experian - the credit agency data brokers. Data was stolen from the US credit bureau, and more than 21 Facebook privacy scandals happened in 2018 alone.
In 2018 the governments got legal - in May, the EU GDPR came into force. A set of rules outlining how consumer data can be collected, analyzed, transferred, and stored. In June, California came with its similar set of rules creating the CCPA and similarly outlined how businesses can collect, store and transfer consumer data from California residents.
Google put several privacy measures in place, including but not exclusive to penalizing sites that did not have an SSL certificate (HTTPS protocol), removal of third party cookies within two years, and working on their alternative to third-party tools (FLoC). The last two have now been delayed till around 2023 as the latest developments didn't meet GDPR regulations.
Apple also made some significant changes in 2021 with their latest operating system, iOS 14.5, prompting iPhone and iPad users to opt-out of tracking in apps that monitor the behavior and share the data with third parties.
Amazon also announced that they would be coming out with their own identifiers.
Finally, as Paid Search Account managers, we get to the conversations you should be having with your clients.
How are you collecting 1st Party data?
Clients will need to be a lot more purposeful as to how they are collecting first-party data as they aren't going to be able to rely on third parties to provide them with it anymore. Even with the delay of Google removing the cookies, now is that time, with full visibility to measure how your 1st party data compares to the third party. It would be best if you also were using great tools like Google's customer match to upload your customer data to your Google AdWords account to do audience targeting.
Targeting is going to be more challenging.
It will become more important to start figuring out what that ideal customer path to purchase is and ensuring that you create the keywords and creatives to enhance that journey.
Even now, attribution has always been hard to figure out. What channel deserves how much investment. Knowing not just where traffic is coming from but what channel sells the most needs to continue to be the priority, and being close partners with your clients to figure out what is going to be critical. Last touch attribution will need to be replaced with Marketing Media Mix Modeling, and to get that right; there will be some data that only the client will have access to.
Attribution part 2
Have you upgraded to GA4? The way website visits are tracked is already being done in a way that will only be available when we lose cookies. It will also start being very useful to move to this view as website visitors are increasingly likely to opt out of cookie usage and other means of data collection. A recent client once said on a call, "I don't want my account to be the one you use to test how GA4 works". So while we are still in the scenario of having UA and GA4, now is the time to show clients the benefits of switching over sooner rather than later.
Unique selling points are also going to be critical to get across. Mere competitive price points are going to stop being the winning factor amongst customers. Working with your clients to effectively figure out how their product/services are making their customers' lives better will be what truly sets brands apart and will convince clients to allow them to be tracked.
A few more pieces of advice to offer to your client are the importance of having GDPR compliance insurance and getting a GDPR/CCPA management tool.
I am very grateful to brightonSEO for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and recommendations for what needs to be done now in preparation for the upcoming Data Privacy changes. We may still have a couple of years for Google to make significant changes, but that just gives us more time to prepare and prepare we must.
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