As people become more aware of how their online behavior is being tracked and used, their concerns about data privacy are resulting in major policy changes across the internet. Amid these changes, marketers find themselves in the position of adapting to new restrictions that impact their ability to connect with their target audience.
Many college marketing teams are in the process of determining how they can recalibrate their efforts to overcome this challenge. We hear your concerns loud and clear and are happy to shed some light on what’s happening—and why you shouldn’t panic.
Recent Policy Changes Impacting Digital Marketing Strategies
For some time now, marketers in the United States have been preparing for the phase-out of third-party cookies, which are placed on websites to track user behavior on a domain and then used to display ads across the internet based on that activity. Cookies have been a critical tool for marketers in all industries, providing the ability to not only reach out to visitors of their own sites, but also find likely prospects who may not yet be aware of their brand.
Many of these changes are focused on requiring websites to ask permission to use third-party cookies instead of forcing users to opt out after the fact. Following in the footsteps of Europe’s stringent cookie regulations, which require websites to disclose that they’re using cookies and obtain consent from users, states like California have implemented their own similar regulations.
Businesses like Google and Apple are following suit. In January 2021, Google announced plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome by late 2023. While smaller browsers like Safari and Firefox have been blocking cookies for a long time, since Chrome is the leading web browser with over 63% market share worldwide, this represents a significant change for marketers.
In March 2021, the search giant confirmed that as part of this phase-out, it will end the behavioral targeting capabilities that marketers use to get in front of their most promising audiences. Although Google is planning to implement interest-based targeting through Google Topics, this isn’t a replacement for cookies since there will be no ability for targeting based on browsing behavior or conversion data.
In July 2021, Apple announced iOS 14 changes that directly impact how marketers use Facebook and other apps to track user behavior on mobile devices. Apple is now requiring that all apps prompt users to opt in to have their data tracked outside the platform. Since over 90% of Facebook users exclusively access the platform via mobile, this will restrict its capability to collect data, impacting its ability to target audiences, track web conversions, and optimize ad performance.
Why Colleges Shouldn’t Panic About These Changes
As daunting as these changes appear at first glance, the good news is that colleges with multi-channel marketing strategies already in place can safely remove their fingers from the panic button for now.
Marketers will have to focus their strategies on gathering first-party data, concentrating on quality over quantity, and develop creative and thoughtful ways to nurture leads with a robust full-funnel marketing strategy.
If you need support building a multi-channel digital marketing strategy that can weather the dynamic data privacy landscape, contact MindMax today.