If content is being funded by data it’s important not to hoodwink your customers – be honest about how it will be used, says Nial Ferguson, Managing Director, UK & Ireland at Sourcepoint.
The era of free-flowing, unconsented personal data is behind us, and consumers now have more control over the information they make available to publishers. Data continues to be vitally important for publishers as a means to provide their readers with the best possible user experience [UX]. So how can publishers ensure they respect the privacy of consumers while ensuring that more of them consent to their data being used for relevant and tailored advertising?
A consent management platform [CMP] is a software solution that enables publishers to request, receive and store a user’s data preferences. The platforms let the user control their data preferences on websites in a compliant manner while causing as little disruption to the UX as possible. A properly functioning CMP is critical to ensure maximum monetization from advertising.
CMPs play an important role in the digital world as a means for publishers to remain compliant as regulations are continually introduced and revised in the privacy-focused world we’re now in. A good CMP will be agile and flexible, enabling the publisher to quickly and easily adjust to privacy regulations in different markets, as well as to comply with the fast-moving changes to privacy settings often seen from the big tech platforms like Google. It should have in-depth reporting, giving the publisher the means to review key performance metrics.
Beyond that, publishers should be looking to work with partners who are taking privacy seriously, both from a compliance point of view and in terms of business best practices. Good CMP providers should be committed to the highest privacy standards, and help the publisher to identify where privacy practices may be lacking.
Creating a quality user experience
However, having a good CMP in place is just the beginning. Knowing how to utilise the technology to deliver a quality experience for consumers remains imperative. Doing so will ensure that more people consent to handing over their personal data in exchange for relevance and personalisation.
It’s this value exchange that publishers need to emphasise to the consumer within the CMP – why would anybody agree to give up their personal data without a clear and stated benefit?
Consumers need to be made aware that their data – and the experiences this data powers – is why they’re able to access the majority of publisher sites for free. If people don’t pay with data and attention, they’ll be paying with their wallets. Providing consumers with this information builds trust and, in turn, makes them more likely to consent to their data being collected.
When it comes to building trust, publishers should also make sure that they’re providing consumers a free choice as to whether they share their data or not. They should avoid using ‘dark patterns’ to effectively trick users into giving up their data and make the experience clear and easy to navigate. Not presenting consumers with a real choice when it comes to consent will damage the reputation of your site, and give users a reason not to return.
Testing, testing… testing!
Once a publisher has put measures in place to stop it from using any underhanded tactics, there is still plenty of room to improve the UX through testing.
Publishers have to understand that, sometimes, just being one of the good ones isn’t enough. They also have to ensure that they’re optimising the experience based on what they find through A/B testing.
Publishers should embrace A/B testing for message flow and timing, using tools to measure consent rates and the general behaviours of users when they are presented with a consent wall or banner. This information can help optimise the interface, language and timing of opt-in messages. And finding the perfect balance in messaging will only lead to publishers gaining more people's consent.
The right CMP will be able to deliver powerful A/B testing tools to help with this process, as well as providing the publisher with effective reporting tools to enable the tracking, management and optimisation of consent notices from a single dashboard.
UX is still a priority
With consumers becoming more privacy-conscious and knowledgeable about how the internet works, publishers need to go above and beyond to convince people to consent to share their data. Not to mention, there’s an increase in general interest surrounding global privacy controls (browser-based controls), adding further emphasis on the need to make the consent experience meaningful.
Being transparent and helping to increase the knowledge of consumers about their data, and the value exchange, will go a long way toward building trust and increasing opt-in rates. This approach should be powered by investment in the right tools to support the delivery of these messages in a privacy-compliant and user-friendly manner.
The bottom line is that publishers need consented data to continue making revenues within a free and open internet, and the only way they’re going to be provided with this data is to deliver an opt-in consent process that puts the user first.