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How businesses can adapt to changing data environment

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Business owners have to adapt to new realities that require them to adopt new ways of work, tooling, or partnerships to continue participating in the market in compliance. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • Business owners have to adapt to new realities that require them to adopt new ways of work, tooling, or partnerships to continue participating in the market in compliance.
  • The first step is for every business to (re)focus on first-party data, given by or inferred from actual customers.
  • Putting in place methods to secure it in near real-time and getting consent to use it beyond any immediate transaction or interaction will pay dividends in the short and long term.


Many companies globally that have built multi-billion businesses from consumer identity data; aggregating (offline and online), cleaning and enriching it, providing precise targeting to numerous brands, used to great effect in sales and marketing.

As the landscape changes following regulatory shifts aimed towards protecting personal data, business owners have to adapt to new realities that require them to adopt new ways of work, tooling, or partnerships to continue participating in the market in compliance.

Third-party cookies; those little snippets of code that enable platforms and their business clients to track current and potential consumers online to optimise their sales are getting phased out. Popular browsers Firefox and Safari have already done so with Google giving a 2022 timeline for the same. Online tracking will not stop entirely, as it is still possible to create unique digital customer fingerprints from several other data crumbs that we leave online. However, open standards such as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), developed as part of an initiative dubbed The Privacy Sandbox, promise to offer better privacy protections.

In many African markets, much of this change has not struck a chord. For a long time, only the big brands that could afford agencies on consult were privy to the intricacies of how the advertising engine that supports much of the internet works - targeting, retargeting, and measuring return on investment. For thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises, best practice has not been a priority. Many who dabble with the various platforms often find themselves going contrary to common sense, when looking at the optimal user experience and desired outcomes.

The first step is for every business to (re)focus on first-party data, given by or inferred from actual customers. This data is of high quality and its acquisition auditable. Putting in place methods to secure it in near real-time and getting consent to use it beyond any immediate transaction or interaction will pay dividends in the short and long term. This data can be captured online and offline. Businesses may need to retool to ensure they get it right.

Now that there is a law with punitive remedy for those who fail to subscribe to best practice, the long journey to better, perhaps even joyful consumer engagements can begin.

Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | www.mbuguanjihia.com | @mbuguanjihia