adppa advertising regulations
3 minutes read

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) is a major advancement in developing a national data security and digital privacy framework covering all Americans. Will it change the way we do marketing?

Yes and no. Let me explain.

May 2018 is a landmark for privacy regulations. GDPR set a comprehensive foundation for how any organization in the world should collect, manage, and protect the personally identifiable information of EU citizens.

Beyond the details, GDPR sets several key principles: 

  1. The ownership principle. The user owns the personal data, and the companies need a clear (and legal) basis for data processing. 
  2. The data minimization principle. The companies should only collect the data they reasonably need.
  3. The transparency principle. The user must be informed about what the personal data will be used for.
  4. The responsibility principle. The companies that collect data must ensure adequate protection for the data.

The tricky part with GDPR was the lack of prescriptions, and this was actually good (for the users) because the companies were forced to move from “compliance box ticking” to a change in mindset.

An excellent example is the third-party cookiepocalypse phenomenon. The primary use case for third-party cookies is to track user activity across the web. The GDPR is not explicitly banning this class of cookies, but it raises many challenges for those who want to use them.

Though GDPR didn’t ban specific technologies, it fueled other initiatives to phase out technologies that were not having user privacy at the forefront, like third-party cookies.

What About ADPPA?

The shortcoming of GDPR is its focus on Europeans. The US is the biggest digital advertising market, and the legal context here is much more fragmented and muddier.

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) is designed to govern data privacy across the US and to create a nationwide basis. At its core, ADPPA is not intended to change the foundation set by GDPR but to build on top of it.

For example, the American bill goes beyond user consent to stricter rules that define the acceptable use cases for personal data.

I found an interesting comparison between the two bodies of law, including some of the weaknesses. While ADPPA is still a work in progress and might suffer significant changes till (and if) will become law, one thing is clear: there is no practical option to avoid taking privacy seriously.

There is only one safe way for marketers and advertisers moving forward: privacy should become a core element of all go-to-market strategies and marketing campaigns.

Privacy by Design Vs. (Hyper)Personalization

There was (and still is to this day) a strong current in favor of ads personalization. And it makes total sense to strive to craft a message that fits, as much as possible, each consumer individually.

In theory, this brings value to both sides: seller and buyer.

But there is a prerequisite for this: the advertiser should know the specifics of each individual. And the price for it is the individual’s privacy. Tracking the users’ behavior has gone to great lengths, and I’m afraid to know how much data about my own person is available out there, at least for some organizations.

For many people, the privacy cost exceeds the benefits. This is at the core of regulations and initiatives that are to restore this balance.

What Can Marketers Do in This Context?

As a marketer, I am very much aware of the importance of personalization. In the given situation, I am looking at three promising personalization options that are minding the privacy of prospects: channel, context, and micro-segment personalization.

While detailing each of these is beyond the scope of this article, there is a common theme that I would like to mention: stepping back to hyper-personalization and adapting marketing communication to slightly broader audiences.

At first sight, this approach seems like losing some ground (less personalization and fewer options for remarketing).

But, taking a step back, there is one question to ask: do users like hyper-personalization? Surveys are saying that they don’t because they feel watched. So, while we lose some, we also win some. The ads that the prospects see will continue to be relevant (within context), and individuals’ privacy will be better preserved.

Returning to this article’s question title, ADPPA doesn’t fundamentally change things.

As an industry, we have already started to move toward more respect and mindfulness when handling personal data. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act is a latecomer to the game, but it’s welcomed as it is expected to bring more consistency to data handling across the US.

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Bogdan Carlescu
Bogdan Carlescu joined the Creatopy team as VP of Marketing in March 2022, stepping up from heading a Product Marketing department at a leading cybersecurity solution. He has more than 15 years of experience in building, marketing, selling, and implementing tech-enabled business solutions. He enjoys sharing industry insights and best practices through blogging and speaking opportunities.

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