Data privacy laws force changes in digital marketing: Travel Weekly

As the digital privacy landscape evolves, experts say travel companies will likely need to adapt their online marketing strategies accordingly.

Although online privacy has long been a hot topic, concerns about the protection of personal data have peaked in recent years, in part because of regulation.

Laws like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), for example, have set strict limits on how businesses can collect and process personal data. .

“All of these privacy initiatives, like the GDPR and CCPA in California, plus others in Brazil, South Africa, and Australia, they’re all basically saying, ‘Whoa, wait a sec, what are you doing with it? all this data? “said Robert Cole, senior research analyst for accommodation and leisure travel at Phocuswright.” It used to be the Wild West when it came to collecting data and sharing it with others. people.”

Pushing the privacy needle has also brought about a drastic shift in consumer sentiment.

“There has certainly been a tendency for users to just be unhappy with the way their data is obtained and used,” said Brian Swift, director of media and analytics at California-based marketing firm Hooray Agency. “And so we are seeing a shift towards making the big players in the industry accountable for what they do online.”

Internet giants like Apple and Google have already started to take steps to strengthen digital privacy. Apple’s latest iOS operating system, for example, made it easier for users to keep their web activity private and block ad trackers.

Likewise, Google, as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative, has also presented plans to curb tracking, among other privacy measures. Although the launch of the privacy initiative has been delayed, Google is targeting a rollout of the first stage by the end of 2022.

It’s a monumental change in the way things work. I think being complacent and believing those who say everything will be fine would be a huge mistake.– Brian Swift, Hourra Agency marketing firm

According to Swift, these changes essentially herald the end of third-party cookies, or tracking codes that record a person’s online browsing activity and are typically used to help third parties better target ads to a particular user. (Conversely, first-party cookies are generated by the website a user is visiting directly, instead of a third-party site.)

The full impact of the demise of third-party cookies remains to be seen, but by all accounts it is a major upheaval in digital advertising.

“It’s such a monumental change in the way things work,” Swift said. “I think being complacent and believing those who say everything will be fine would be a huge mistake.”

In particular, Swift added, removing third-party cookies will make it more difficult for many players, including Facebook, to accurately measure ad performance. In a blog posted by Facebook on September 22, the company estimated that it had underreported its third-quarter web conversions by around 15% due to Apple’s iOS updates alone.

Reports like this suggest that similar challenges may be ahead for travel agencies.

Small businesses are the hardest hit

“This latest move from Apple, along with the upcoming elimination of third-party cookies by Google, will have an immediate material effect on travel marketers,” said Max Starkov, hospitality and travel technology consultant in line and assistant professor of hospitality technology at New York University. “These privacy measures will prevent travel marketers from measuring the success and return on investment of their digital marketing campaigns.”

Starkov predicts that travel agencies with vast treasures of first-party data to fall back on, such as Marriott International with its 150 million members Marriott Bonvoy or Expedia Group with its more than 145 million rewards program members, will be relatively safe from any significant fallout.

“So who will be the biggest losers from eliminating third-party cookies? Starkov said. “Mid-sized and smaller travel agencies with scarce or no first-party data and no technology to take advantage of it: travel agencies, TMCs, tour operators, hotels, etc. “

In response, Starkov suggested that midsize and small travel players who rely on third-party cookies may need to take a more aggressive approach to content marketing in the future, by doubling the creation of website content. attractive and social media posts, improving SEO, investing in public relations or influencer marketing, or hosting webinars, among other efforts.

Small travel agencies could also benefit from professional support, Swift says, whether it’s a marketing agency or consultant, or an advertising representative with Facebook or Google.

“I would encourage [a small player] to find a technology or a strategic partner that can kind of help guide them, because at the end of the day I think the landscape is changing so much and so quickly now that it’s very difficult to navigate alone, ”said Swift.

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