008 Why You Should Care About Privacy Even If You Don’t Care About Privacy

In this episode, we’ll go discuss a huge change that is happening online and will continue to happen over the next few years. We’re talking about internet users’ right to privacy, the rise of DuckDuckGo, how that will affect marketing and how you can prepare for a privacy-oriented (cookie-less) future.

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Episode Notes:

Today. we’ll look at some trends and talk about a huge change that is happening online and will continue to happen over the next few years. We’re talking about internet users’ right to privacy, how that will affect your work and how you can prepare for a very different future.

The Rise of DuckDuck Go

DuckDuckGo is an internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results. They tit 100M daily searches for the first time on January 11th, 2021. This increase their search market share to 2.3%  in the US, up from 1.3% a year ago.

  • No profiling, ever
  • All users get the same search results
  • Fighting filter bubble of personalized search results (intellectual isolation that can result from personalized searches when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user, such as location, past click-behavior and search history. As a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles)
  • Shows search results based on compilation of 400+ sources, including Bing
  • Filters out content-mill websites (eHow) and pages with substantial advertising
  • Some of its source code is available on GitHub

How Is DuckDuckGo Different Than Google? 

According to DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Policy, they have:

  • Zero Search leakage: When you search for something private, you are sharing that private search (search term, user agent, IP, personal info in case you’re logged in)  not only with your search engine but also with all the sites that you clicked on (for that search). DuckDuckGo prevents search leakage by default.  The other sites will still know that you visited them, but they will not know what search you entered beforehand.
  • Zero Search history: Other search engines save your search history. Usually your searches are saved along with the date and time of the search, some information about your computer (e.g. your IP address, User agent and often a unique identifier stored in a browser cookie), and if you are logged in, your account information (e.g. name and email address).
  • Zero Information Collected. It is unusual for a few reasons but simply put, no information saved or used for advertising

Larger Privacy Trends

Apple vs Facebook

Apple’s iOS 14.4 anti-tracking features is set to launch in early spring 2021. This means all apps need to tell you exactly what they are tracking and give you an option to opt-out. Facebook hated this and even had a campaign where it was “trying to protect the interest of small-business owners”.

From that website: “Apple’s new iOS14 policy requires apps to show a discouraging prompt that will prohibit collecting and sharing information that’s essential for personalized advertising, unless users opt in on Apple’s terms.”

What this initiative by Apple is trying to achieve:

  • Data minimization (Collecting only the minimum amount of data required to deliver what you need for a given service)
  • On-device processing (Processing data on the device, wherever possible, rather than sending it to Apple servers, to protect user privacy and minimize data collection)
  • User transparency and control (Making sure that users know what data is shared and how it is used, and that they can exercise control over it)
  • Security (Hardware and software working together to keep data secure)

From the report: “Let users share data as they wish, in a way that is safe, and that they understand and control.”

Firefox 86 Total Cookie Protection

What is a cookie? It’s a text file containing data that can be used to identify your device.

  • First-party cookie: set directly by the website you’re on. In most cases they are necessary because they provide essential functionality (like staying logged in, remembering what you had in cart etc)
  • Third-party cookies: set by an external server (e.g., a tracking platform) via a piece of code loaded on the website you are visiting. These cookies can then be accessed on any website that loads the code from the same third-party server. Since they share information across websites, third-party cookies are also known as cross-site cookies.

Earlier this month (March) a new version of Firefox browser was released and it came with a new feature called Total Cookie Protection.

The main purpose of this feature is to prevent tracking between multiple sites and fight against what Mozilla calls “supercookies”, or cookies that track you across websites. This is not on by default, but it’s easy to do, just need to turn on Strict Mode.

In combination with the Supercookie Protections (FF 85), Total Cookie Protection provides partitioning of cookies and other site data between websites in Firefox. Together these features prevent websites from being able to “tag” your browser,  thereby eliminating the most pervasive cross-site tracking technique.

Google Chrome Phasing Out Third-party Cookies

Also working against third-party cookies, with the plan to phase them out in the next few years. Google is working on what is called “Privacy Sandbox”, an initiative that will try to build a more private web through broadly accepted standards.

This is not about hurting advertisers, it is a response to ad tracking now being used far beyond its original design intent.

What Google thinks is that simply blocking third-party cookies without providing an alternative is not the best way to handle the situation, and that’s why they are working on an alternative to third-party cookies.

How to Prepare for a Privacy-oriented Future

Let’s not forget that third-party cookies were created to be able to provide personalized and relevant content to target consumers. In many cases, that didn’t happen, with ads seeming to follow consumers everywhere whether they were interested or not.

Understand Your Customer

Leverage customer data in a way that will respect their privacy. So when you think of it these are not entirely new to us. We’re going back to the foundations of marketing. We need to find a better way of tracking and understanding customer data and building relationships with customers,

Permission-based Marketing

Focus on first-party data. This includes purchase data, email campaign records and even phone logs from calls into a contact center for customer support. Find a better way of connecting data collected from your onboarding, surveys, second-party data (retailers), purchases and support tickets.

The goal is to give customers a truly personalized experience. Give them what they want, sooner and faster.

Focus on Retention

Give more focus on existing customers, understanding them, how can you increase their lifetime value (LTV). Establish a one-to-one relationship with your customers.

Final Thoughts and Recap

Grow your traffic from other channels. You’ll need to invest in building your reputation through content marketing to drive demand. Shift your thinking to privacy-first, consent-based marketing. Go back to understanding customers. Over time, you can build quality relationships with your customers and provide them with a truly personalized experience with your brand.

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