Digital Security and the Future of Privacy Online


Privacy has always been an issue when it comes to putting yourself and your business online, but with recent data breaches and personal information being shared publicly, it has moved to the forefront of public concern.

Public Perceptions and Trends

Internet users, including your businesses customers, are increasingly concerned about their privacy when it comes to interacting online. A survey conducted by Pew Research found that 91% of adults agree or strongly agree that they have lost control of their personal information and data.

Security is also a concern that won’t fade away. Webmedia Group’s 2015 Tech Trends report, includes security across numerous platforms and channels as one of their key insights in technologies to be watchful of in the coming year . This is its third year on the list.

This concern also extends into digital marketing because in the Pew Research survey mentioned earlier, 80% of the respondents say they are concerned about third party advertisers or businesses accessing the data they share on social networking sites.

What this means is that people are becoming more aware of the experiences they have online and the impact it may have on the security of their personal information.

How Data is Being Used

Digital marketing relies on some personal data to create successful campaigns, and looking to the future this could create issues for marketers. Already, Google has taken away search query data in Google Analytics making it difficult to see how people are finding websites through organic search.

Besides search queries, additional information including location, demographic data, search interest, and other preferences help to shape digital marketing campaigns. Facebook creates large sums of revenue through their ad platform which uses this data and it also includes what a person likes or engages with. The same is true for Google’s AdWords platform which uses this information to provide relevant ads on their display network.

Taken to the extreme, Facebook ads can get very targeted, and in the case of the “The Ultimate Retaliation”, the “target market” singled out one individual person. This person was also the targeter’s friend, however it does go to show how powerful these ad platforms can be.

Website Security Updates

The first step in creating a private arena and giving your site visitors peace of mind is to consider switching your site to HTTPS. While this is a fairly recent trend, it is one Google is pushing and they have even gone as far to say that they have made it a ranking factor; albeit a small one for now.

HTTPS adds a SSL layer to your site and provides a secure connection between the site user and your server. This does provide value, but for the time being may be costly for some sites as the SSL certificate can be expensive to purchase and implement.

That being said, if personal data is being sent back and forth between your servers and a user’s browser, look into updating your site to HTTPS.

Advertising Recommendations to Minimize Concern

When it comes to ads, the biggest recommendation to be made is to not take advantage of user data and to not be intrusive.

This recommendation has always held true, but ads that pop up everywhere and messaging that gets too personal can scare away customers. As shown in The Ultimate’s Facebook prank, if the ad knows more than it should there are negative side effects.

It is also important to be relevant and timely. By understanding the buying cycle and where customers might be within it, ads can be served that are more closely related to their current mindset. When ads show information that lies outside of what might be considered the norm, or do not fall in line with what a customer might expect, that is when they take notice and eyebrows are raised.

Privacy in the Future

As users become more concerned with security they will be more aware of the interactions they have online. Setting your site up to be secure and being cognizant of how their information is used goes a long way in making users and customers more comfortable. It will be interesting to see what changes are made in the coming months as people keep their personal information more guarded and companies have to respond to these trends.

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