Type to search

Will marketers lose access to consumer data? Privacy and ethics predictions 2020

Technology & Data

Will marketers lose access to consumer data? Privacy and ethics predictions 2020


Regional regulations will make a global impact in courtrooms and boardrooms in 2020 and Forrester predicts two areas of the marketing ecosystem will be upended.

Third-party data and adtech are in the crosshairs of regulators and face existential risk in 2020, claim Forrester analysts in the ‘Predictions 2020: Privacy and Data Ethics’ report.

“B2C marketing leaders face even more challenges in the coming year and will struggle to retain access to the consumer data they depend on for their marketing and advertising practices,” says Fatameh Khatibloo, VP and principal analyst at Forrester.

Authors Khatibloo, Heidi Shey, Enza Iannopollo and Stephanie Liu outline a range of their biggest privacy and data ethics challenges for marketers. Here’s Marketing‘s wrap:

Digital advertising turned on its head

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office issued a report stating that current real-time bidding (RTB) processes miss the mark on three major GDPR requirements: consent, transparency and data leakage. As many companies operate globally and since many outside the EU have adopted GDPR guidelines as a safe framework, this will have global implications.

In California, for example, under the California Consumer Privacy Act, organisations must protect personal data like IP address and device data and share the the data only with third parties with whom they’ve contracted. RTB, says the report, “passes user data across a supply chain that brands have almost no visibility into – that effectively renders the whole process a data breach.” Therefore in 2020, adtech vendors will be forced to use anonymised or aggregated data in their solutions or they’ll face inquiries from the California attorney general and lose market share with clients that do business in California.

The anti-surveillance market will boom in 2020

In 2020, investors will fund multiple anti-surveillance products designed for consumers. As a side effect, marketers will lose access to crucial customer data like location data, facial data and device IDs and IP addresses. The boom, says the report, is in response to geopolitical events that have led to a wave of anti-surveillance innovation. Consumers worldwide are aiming to inhibit government surveillance efforts and the backlash will no doubt have implications on marketing and the flow of consumer data.

Fines, regulatory pressure and bad press will increase

After increasing their understanding of data and privacy implications, politicians are poised to capitalise on the backlash. There are two main motives for their new stance: “either as an issue to sway voters with exaggerated promises or as a means of exerting control over information by using privacy as a pretense,” Forrester predicts.

Firms that use dark patterns – design patterns that manipulate customers against their own interests to nudge them to opt in to cookies or grant access to device data and other settings – will be under increased pressure. Facebook, for example, requires just four clicks to accept its lax default settings but 13 clicks to enable privacy-protecting settings. Regulators like the Federal Trade Commission will take action against these practices in 2020. Firms collecting sensitive information like health or children’s data will be first in the crosshairs.

As governments have in many cases proven ineffectual, Forrester predicts consumers will take control of driving the enforcement of privacy rights. Privacy class action lawsuits will see a 300% increase in geographies where class action lawsuits are an available course of legal action.

Data ethics will become a battleground in the talent war

Data professionals with long-term career considerations will seek out firms with clean data credentials. In Europe, many employees are exercising data subject rights and questioning the collection of certain data. Facebook is struggling to recruit from top US schools, with one recruiter quoted in the report:

“The privacy scandals, the Cambridge Analytica stuff – students aren’t as interested in Facebook any more.”

Whistleblowing will increase, consumers will continue to shy away from companies with shoddy reputations and data ethics will affect a far greater range of industries as a result.


This article is part of our coverage of Forrester’s ‘2020 Predictions’ series. Try another:


Photo by Dynamic Wang on Unsplash

Ben Ice

Ben Ice was MarketingMag editor from August 2017 - February 2020

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment