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Welcome to Data File. At The Current, we comb industry, analyst and economic sources for the data that matters to ecommerce professionals. This weekly feature is one of the ways we’re sharing what we find.
Whether it's a debate about changing practices or the fallout from them, data privacy is a polarizing topic.
For brands and retailers, it's the fallout. Data privacy often comes up in conversation when it relates to changes made by platforms that affect attribution in digital advertising. But leave aside how these changes were executed and their impact, and it’s worth recalling one of the primary reasons that they were made in the first place: Privacy is important to consumers.
A new report released this week by the programmatic data privacy company Ketch and media investment and intelligence firm MAGNA offers new findings to back that up. Titled “The Person Behind The Data: Consumer perspectives on data privacy,” the report offers insights from a survey of 2,750 consumers.
The results: Here’s a look at some of the key results:
- 74% of consumers say they “highly value” data privacy, and more people value this than other ethical issues.
- 82% of consumers are concerned about how their data is being gathered and used.
- This is driven by a feeling among consumers that they lack control over their data. While 83% of consumers perceive positive benefits of sharing data, 57% of people worry about how their data is being used, while 64% believe they do not have full control over their data.
Key quote: “People see the value in data sharing but they are concerned about how companies are handling their personal information and think they should be doing more,” said Kara Manatt, EVP and managing director of intelligence solutions at MAGNA Global, in a statement. “It is an important issue that affects the bottom line and even long-term brand preference. Marketers spend billions of dollars and years building how people feel about their brands, and now, increasingly, data practices play a growing role in brand preference and trust.”
The opportunity: For brands, building data privacy into their practices can help to win favor with shoppers. The study found that there was an increase in purchase intent of 23% for brands with responsible data practices.
What it means for ecommerce professionals: Reaching people interested in buying a product often means advertising, and data privacy has been front and center when it comes to that approach. For brands that built an ecommerce business using the powerful marketing tools of platforms like Facebook, Apple’s privacy-oriented updates with iOS 14.5 in 2021 had significant impact. While the key changes affected attribution at a time when customer acquisition costs were already going up, they had the effect of putting privacy front-and-center in the conversation.
This year, other tech companies are leading with privacy. At ShopTalk earlier this year, Google President of Americas and Global Partners Allan Thygesen said it was time for digital advertising to evolve in a privacy-first way. It is leading brands to focus in the following areas:
- First and zero-party data, in which consumers knowingly share their data with a brand or retailer. Loyalty programs are an example of initiatives that share this data which can have benefits for both the brand and consumer.
- Retail media networks, which are operated by retailers from Amazon to grocery stores to Nordstrom, are rising in numbers, offering advertising within the ecommerce experience. This approach emphasizes the idea that retailers’ ecommerce channels are walled gardens, or closed ecosystems where retailers control everything that happens, including data sharing.
- Offline advertising: Social media isn’t the only advertising option. The rise of privacy-first advertising has coincided with a return to more traditional advertising approaches, such as billboards, direct mail and even catalogs. Thingtesting has a recap of some of the approaches being taken at DTC brands.
The bottom line: It’s a time of experimentation in marketing approaches, as many ecommerce brands shift from Facebook-only to many-pronged strategies. By centering privacy during this period of building, brands can build stronger relationships with consumers, the report from Ketch and MAGNA shows. When transparency and control of data are present, 87% of consumers see a positive impact on their relationship with a company. This includes 49% who trust the company more, and many others who are more likely to tell other about the brand or buy more from it.
“The implications of these findings are clear; data privacy builds trust with consumers, and responsible data practices have a measurable impact on the bottom line,” said Tom Chavez, Founder and CEO of Ketch.
Trending in Marketing
New advertising opportunities are being beta tested for in-store audio and product demos.
Retail media’s fast growth isn’t only limited to increasing spend. The advertising itself is also poised to appear in more places beyond ecommerce marketplaces, and even beyond the web.
The latest example comes from Walmart Connect, which is the retail media arm of the world’s largest retailer.
Walmart shared details on testing that it is completing for in-store retail media. To this point, Walmart Connect has been considered the advertising platform for Walmart’s ecommerce site. But these tests indicate that’s poised to expand.
Stores present a potent opportunity for Walmart. It has 4,700 big box locations around the U.S., and customers returned to them in droves last year. In 2022, 88% of the retailer’s customers visited Walmart stores.
Walmart Connect already has already dipped a toe into in-store advertising, with a TV wall, self-checkout ads and integrated marketing. The new pilots aim to take a step further.
“The next frontier of retail media is in-store experiences, and it’s one we’re excited to chart,” Whitney Cooper, head of omnichannel transformation at Walmart Connect, wrote in a blog post on the new tests. “But it’s still an emerging opportunity for us, as we continue to test what serves customers best and which solutions are scalable to Walmart’s size.”
Here’s a look at the two new offerings currently under beta test:
Walmart suppliers will be able to integrate product demos into campaigns across in-store and digital environments.
Product demos aren’t new to store floors, but Walmart Connect is seeking to give them an update that blends digital and physical experiences.
“Part of our test is how to enhance the omnichannel experience by bridging the physical back to digital: For example, by pairing a demo cart with QR codes that link back to a curated Walmart.com landing page so customers can find inspiration and shop their list all in one spot,” Cooper wrote.
Walmart is currently offering 120 demos at stores each weekend, and plans to scale to 1,000 by the end of 2023.
Walmart Connect will now offer advertising placements on Walmart’s in-store radio network. Suppliers will have the option to purchase ads by region or store, enabling targeting of key markets.
“This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly to Walmart customers through this medium,” Cooper writes. “These ads also create a new upper-funnel touchpoint for brand marketers and out-of-home (OOH) buyers to create awareness, because in-store audio is about connecting with customers wherever they are in the store — they don’t have to pass the brand in the aisle.”
With the tests, we’ll be watching for how this advertising is measured, and whether Walmart Connect is tracking impact across different types of formats, and not just a single campaign.