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Brand Strategy

Why Apple’s privacy policy could be the best thing that ever happened to your brand.

In the six months since Apple changed its privacy policy and flipped the advertising world on its ear, brands are feeling the crunch.

In Apple’s new policy, apps are required to ask users if they want to be tracked. This is particularly challenging for advertisers on Facebook and Instagram, on which many brands rely. The Facebook tracking code, or “pixel,” has been embedded in over 8 million websites.

So those frames you were eying at Warby Parker that suddenly appeared in your Instagram feed ended up there because Warby Parker sent that info to Facebook. Kiss that little pixel goodbye, Warby. And it’s not just consumer brands, B2B brands are finding success as well on platforms like LinkedIn.

And yes, as of now, it’s mainly only Apple that is giving users the option to stop tracking your online behavior, but keep in mind there are 113 million iPhone users in just the US and privacy policies tend not to loosen once they are out there, so we can only expect this to expand.

So now that consumers are belted-up and sitting in the driver’s seat, how have they responded to this new tracking option? Since Apple launched this policy in April 2021, 84% of users have opted out of tracking when they encounter the privacy prompt according to analytics provider Flurry.

For brands, this feels like a flashback to the advertising dark ages, AKA pre-2012, when you never really knew precisely how effective your campaigns were. So, what are brands to do?

For starters, the success of digital advertising tracking only proves the core marketing concept of the importance of getting your offerings in front of people who are most likely to buy. The more narrowly you can do this, the less waste and your cost of new customer acquisition is optimized.

The keyword is optimized. And that doesn’t just mean that your marketing tactics are optimized, your brand strategy needs to be optimized as well.

If your targeted marketing options are decreasing, it’s even more critical that your brand positioning and brand messaging hit the mark the maximum number of times.

Think of it like this: with fewer opportunities to engage with key prospective customers, every opportunity that you do have across your tactical marketing toolkit needs to hit the mark.

So, if Apple’s privacy policy means you can’t chase your prospects around online like you used to, it’s time to take a step back and get smarter. But how? 

The key gets back to data. No, not from Facebook campaigns, but data that comes from getting deep inside your prospective customers’ heads to truly understand what motivates them to action. This is called brand optimization, and it raises your opportunity for success with every prospect engagement.

There are two essential parts to brand optimization:

  1. Don’t assume you know how your brand is performing vs competition. How does your brand perform versus alternative options at every stage of the funnel based on buyer desires and perceptions? Understanding this key, nuanced metric sheds light on where you need to most focus your efforts and maximize your marketing budget to make every engagement count. For example, you may feel that your biggest challenge is brand awareness. But, after doing this brand health research, you find that people who are familiar with your brand drop off considerably when they choose which brands they want to seriously consider. This is your Achilles heel and where you need to focus your efforts.
  1. Discover what really motivates prospects to action. What prospective customers say is important when choosing a brand like yours, but what really drives their purchase behavior are often very different things. Pulling the curtain back and understanding what really drives them can make a massive difference in how you talk about your brand. And how your brand is positioned compared to the competition. For example, if you are a natural deodorant brand (here’s looking at you, Native) and your customers tell you that what’s most important to them when choosing a deodorant brand is its ability to stop perspiration without harsh chemicals, but when you observe their actual shopping decision making, they choose a deodorant that smelled the best to them – messaging disconnects start to emerge. You may be positioning on the wrong thing.

Anytime marketers are presented what appears to be a roadblock such as the Apple privacy policy, it means they must get smarter. The place to start is making sure your brand is optimized to perform across every engagement, and that starts with getting out of your own head and into the heads of your prospects.

If your targeted marketing options are decreasing, it’s even more critical that your brand positioning and brand messaging hit the mark the maximum number of times.

- Matt Bowen

President North America, Brandigo

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