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On March 4, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the front page above the fold titled “Google To Stop Ad Sales Based on Browsing.” The tagline was: “Citing privacy concerns, company says it won’t track individuals’ paths across multiple sites.” [link to article ? subscription required]
The article discussed the end of technologies that allow cross-site tracking of internet users. And it’s not only Google. Apple, Mozilla, Brave, and Microsoft are on board as well. As a marketer, here are some considerations to keep in mind as these changes roll out over the next year.
Why should a marketing professional care about privacy?
Data is powerful. The information age has enabled the collection and processing of data in unprecedented ways at unprecedented scale. That’s why privacy considerations are a key part of a healthy society.
At Salesforce Pardot, we want to enable our customers to personalize prospect journeys in ways that are transparent and compliant. This looks like:
- minimizing data collection
- avoiding widespread tracking and profiling across unrelated internet properties
- never aggregating data across our customer boundaries
Browser vendors recognize the power of data and that some actors have violated user privacy by aggregating too much data about individuals from too many sources. And they’ve often done it in ways that cross the line between the reasonable use and unreasonable abuse of personal data.
To prevent data abuse through large-scale aggregation — often in ways that are deliberately opaque — browser vendors are implementing privacy controls to prevent malicious tracking of users. These changes are important for marketing professionals to understand because they impact how we accomplish marketing automation and personalization.
What about tracking in marketing?
Marketing is about understanding a prospect’s needs. Salesforce Pardot enables effective marketing partly by tracking a prospect’s interactions with our customers’ websites and emails — but not across customer boundaries. For example:
Let’s say you plan to host a conference around your flagship product so that users can swap best practices and share solutions they built around your product. You may create one website for your company, another website for your product, and a third for your conference. Salesforce Pardot helps you coordinate your registrants’ experience across all three websites and your conference-related emails using tracking.
Your conference registrants expect personalized content as they prepare for and follow up from your conference. But changes to browser privacy controls intended to prevent abusive pro
filing of internet users will also change the way you personalize across your conference websites and emails.
How marketing personalization will change depends on how privacy-preserving technologies that are currently in development mature over the next year.
What do marketing professionals need to know about browser privacy?
There’s a lot going on in the browser privacy world. Here are a few activities worth paying attention to:
- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the primary www governance body. It’s responsible for maintaining most of the technology standards that empower the web, including the technology behind web browsers. All of the major browser vendors participate in web governance via the W3C. Salesforce is an active member of the Consortium.
- Google’s Privacy Sandbox is a project to develop privacy-respecting technologies for the web that provide alternatives to cross-site tracking. (Privacy Sandbox is technically a Chromium project, but Google is the primary driver.) Google is working closely with other browser vendors and the W3C to mature these technologies as they approach the end of third-party cookies next year.
- Apple is working on numerous privacy initiatives that will apply to Safari, including Intelligent Tracking Prevention. These privacy initiatives will apply to all browsers that run on iOS.
- Mozilla, maintainer of Firefox, is working to enhance user privacy to prevent cross-site tracking using a number of techniques described in their Enhanced Tracking Protection documentation. These technologies include cookie policies specifically designed to limit websites’ ability to track users across sites, plus other recently announced technologies such as State Partitioning.
What is Pardot doing?
We’ve previously written about first-party tracking in Pardot, which was rolled out in our Spring ’21 release. (Learn how to set it up in Pardot.) This is one way marketers can continue to personalize without third-party cookies.
This is not a way to track and profile individuals across the internet. That’s the kind of tracking that concerns the privacy community, and marketers don’t need it for their use case. Salesforce Pardot is also engaged in privacy conversations with the W3C and browser vendors so we can represent our customers’ needs and stay ahead of the latest changes in the browser privacy landscape.
Browser privacy is changing, and it will continue to evolve to prevent abusive tracking of www users. This trend is good for privacy, but it also makes it challenging for marketers to personalize across their websites. Salesforce Pardot is working with the browser vendors and the W3C to find ways to support marketing use cases and respect end-users’ wishes and privacy at the same time.
Stay tuned to this security, privacy, and technology series as we continue to provide the knowledge you need in a world of changing technology.