Let’s talk privacy in modern marketing

2018. The year of the beast from the east, a long hot summer, football not coming home (sorry not sorry) data and privacy… not quite the spectacular sentence finish you were expecting huh?

It really has been a turning point of realisation. Global warming may well be the reason for our extreme seasons, England really aren’t that bad as a footy team, and we’re becoming more aware of how companies we interact with are storing and protecting our data (gotcha again didn’t we!).

GDPR is the buzzword. We were frantically receiving eshot after eshot asking if we wanted to remain signed up to marketing mailing lists, some, ironically, from companies we never remember signing up with in the first place.

Cambridge Analytica is the scandal. The data analytics firm used personal information harvested from millions of Facebook profiles without permission to target US voters. It laid bare the ethical standards for social media companies and called upon greater protection for consumers online.

Snapchat is the future. Despite all these data developments, Snapchat recently announced an extended partnership with Nielsen which will offer advertisers deeper audience targeting. One of the key benefits is that Snapchat will have access to offline purchasing data. Ultimately, this means that if you make a purchase in a bricks-and-mortar store, your data can be stored and used for targeted digital advertising on Snapchat relating to that purchase.

When we first circulated the news around the Shorthose office there were shouts of horror from the millennials and simple shrugs from those a little more senior. So, we thought we’d get two sides of the data story from Generation X and a Millennial.

Sophie is a “digital native” and is often served up ads remarketing products she’s looked at online but finds the notion of making a purchase in a bricks-and -mortar shop and then receiving a digital ad unnerving.

“I’m a total sucker for seeing an item of clothing or beauty product promoted by an Instagrammer which I’ll then look at purchasing online. I’ll mull it over for a few hours and then when I’m scolling Instagram again, I’ll funnily-enough have an advert for that exact product on my feed. A few days later it’ll turn up in the post after I eventually am convinced to order it… sorry bank account.”

“The thought of making a purchase in a store and then receiving promotional adverts online after, even though I haven’t signed up to any marketing materials, makes me uneasy. It feels like someone has an inside look into my safe space, a bit like hearing that Alexa is listening in on my conversations at home.”

“Partly because of my job, I’m well aware of the information companies receive about me online. It’s fascinating to think of the data that is available to target consumers with digital advertising and receiving an online ad after I’ve made an online purchase doesn’t fill me with dread. Knowing that companies can trace what purchase I’ve made with a credit card offline and then follow me online creeps me out!”

laptop on a table

Mark remembers a time when we didn’t have mobile phones and the world was a simpler place. He also does most of his shopping in physical stores, which means if he actually used Snapchat, he’d be more likely to be targeted than Sophie. But while lots of things annoy him, the possibility of being targeted online due to something he did offline doesn’t seem to be one of them.

“I find clothes shopping difficult at the best of times – in my head I want to break free from my middle-aged shackles and stop being so grey, or blue, or black. But every year when I do my annual shop I end up buying the same boring stuff I bought the year before, only slightly bigger.”

“I’m sure there are other options in the few shops I regularly return to, but ever since the unfortunate ‘trying on skinny jeans’ incident I loathe to indulge in anything outside my crushingly dull comfort zone. Frankly, I don’t have the energy to challenge my ‘stick to what you know’ approach while I’m in the actual shop, but if I received an ad with the odd ‘have you thought about this?’ suggestion I may well be inclined to go in a little more often and maybe even buy something.”

“The same applies with food – every week the same tried and tested standards bought in store – but if you fancy throwing some funky digital noodle offers at me because I once bought some soy sauce in your shop, then fine – get busy with the suggestions – anything that spices up my existence surely has to be a good thing doesn’t it?”


Sophie Polak.

PR Account Manager