What the CPRA Means for Marketers

The California Privacy Regulation Act (CPRA), passed in November 2020, will have some serious outcomes for online marketers come Jan. 2023.
The California Privacy Regulation Act (CPRA), passed in November 2020, will have some serious outcomes for online marketers come Jan. 2023.

When Proposition 24, better known as the California Privacy Regulation Act (CPRA), passed in November 2020, businesses knew they had a strategic rethink ahead of them. The CPRA will replace the existing California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) from January 2023.

Organizations continue to deal with the changes brought on by the CCPA. Now, they have to deal with the new obligations placed on them by the new CPRA. Some of the most significant changes the CPRA brings to the table include the following.

  • The creation of the “sensitive personal data” category.
    • This prohibits the use of data related to a person’s race or ethnicity, genetic data, sexual orientation, and data about their health, among other information.
  • A new regulatory authority, the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), will be created to enforce the CPRA.
  • Links on all web pages on a website make it easier for users to opt-out of having their data shared, sold, or used.
  • Limitations on how long businesses can retain users’ data.
  • Increased consent requirements when collecting data on minors.

There is a slight silver lining in the fact that the CPRA will only apply to businesses that cater to at least 100,000 users, have $25 million in global revenue, and make at least 50% of this global revenue from selling or sharing users’ data.

For those businesses that it does apply to, their entire data collection and processing ecosystem will need to be overhauled.

What To Expect

More ominously, the provisions of the CPRA mean that personalized behavioral advertising or “targeted advertising” that has improved conversion rates for businesses in ten folds will no longer be possible.

For marketers, this will require a thorough evaluation of the entire organization’s marketing strategy.

Consider this; a business wants to launch a digital campaign in a particular county after January 2023. By law, the business and its website will need to ensure that users have easy access to opting out of behavioral advertising.

The result? The campaign will result in failure since the key indicators such as time spent on a page, user journey within the website, device used to access the website, and all other such information will no longer be available. In the end, creating campaigns that deliver promising conversions will become harder than ever before.

So, is this the end for digital marketers? After all, conversions are the bottom line when it comes to digital campaigns.

Surprisingly, that’s not the case. Yes, organizations and businesses will find restrictions on the scale of data collection and processing restrictive. However, it will not end digital marketing, and there are various reasons why.

Change In the Air

For starters, Google recently announced that it would phase out cookies altogether from its ecosystem.

There has long been a debate over the ethics of cookies and their use in marketing campaigns. It doesn’t matter if it’s first-party cookies, third-party cookies, tracking cookies, or session cookies. Each facilitates the tracking of user activity in one way or another.

While the CPRA does not address the use of cookies directly, some of the provisions of the law ensure that users can easily opt out of having any of these stored on their devices, thus negating their entire purpose.

Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) was Google’s first attempt at replacing cookies. The FLoC idea has been shelved, at least for now. However, the FLoC trials did open the way for a better alternative in Topics API.

The fundamental principle behind Topics is that it’ll learn about users’ interests based on their overall internet browsing patterns. Furthermore, it will only keep data for the past three weeks of any user’s browsing history. Google plans to restrict the number of topics it can triangulate on any user to around 300.

Why This Matters for Marketers

This will be of particular interest to marketers that’ll be operating within the confines of the CPRA.

Topics API will follow an interest-based advertising model rather than the behavioral model currently used by Google. Additionally, it will ensure that users have a greater degree of control over what ads they see based on their interests, which they can edit accordingly.

This means that while marketers may not have access to the grand number of users they could target via their behavioral targeted campaigns, topics API will ensure the users who see their ads have a higher internal reason for seeing their ads in the first place.

In other words, the number of potential customers targeted may be low, but these users will have a much higher chance of converting.

What Lies Ahead

These are exciting times. It may sound like a misnomer to some. Still, for privacy advocates and internet users, regulations like the CPRA are a monumental step in the right direction. It will help to provide adequate data privacy to users online.

Expectedly, this will come at a cost.

Certain marketing practices have become fundamental to the entire premise of digital marketing. Being able to monitor users on a website in real-time, to see how long their sessions last, where they’re visiting from, which language they use, which device they’re on, what’s the screen dimension of their device, etc. are all the sort of data that enabled marketers to design campaigns that promise better conversions.

More importantly, it allowed marketers to create campaigns that marketers knew aligned well with how their current and potential users behave online.

Right from which words spring their users to convert to which color schemes enhance the chances of elongating their browsing sessions, marketers had it all figured out.

The CPRA, like several other data protection regulations, will change that. New technologies and methodologies are constantly being developed. Perhaps marketing will become more about old-school creativity in campaigns. They may do this rather than the data-oriented approach that may seem dreary to some. And in a way, that’s what makes it exciting.

Whatever the case, a new era in marketing may soon be upon us. It will be so in California from January 2023. Marketers still have a few months to figure out how they will tackle this new digital reality. The quicker they do, the better their chances of succeeding will be.

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