Consumer data privacy is a concern that isn’t going away. With new regulations and threats, here is how to maintain that privacy for online media buying.

What happens to consumer data is a big concern — and rightfully so. Nearly every week, rumblings about a new data breach, and the repercussions of it, are heard and can be beyond repair for the responsible brand. Not only will the company encounter consumer backlash, but it could also suffer potential regulatory and financial penalties.

Of course, this can be more of an issue in certain industries where additional regulations impact how brands handle data and use it for marketing purposes. Financial services and pharmaceutical brands must pay attention to online advertising behavioral targeting and privacy.

No matter the industry, online advertising privacy issues are always top of mind for best-in-class digital ad providers. They influence providers’ media buying guidelines and how they work with brands to guarantee data integrity and consumer data protection.

So how exactly can digital ad providers safeguard online advertising behavioral targeting and privacy?

These should be the guiding principles:

1. Add value to the consumer.

As in any healthy relationship, there’s mutual give and take between brand and consumer. We meet, learn a bit about one another, and use that knowledge for the betterment of the other party.

Unfortunately, too many advertisers unwittingly operate more like a stalker than a friend. They gather copious amounts of information, make detailed notes, and look for any crack to worm their way in — all while giving consumers nothing in return. That’s where it can get creepy, invasive, and weird.

Instead of plastering everyone who falls within some demographic or psychographic profile, the process should be more dynamic — the audience changes based on the depth of engagement.

The goal is to show people ads that improve their lives and offer information that is suited to the individual’s likes, interests, lifestyle, etc. After all, 77% of consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that provides a more personalized experience, according to a “Forrester Data North American Consumer Technographics Brand Compass Survey.”

2. Provide scale.

While brands certainly want to retain customers, they’re also looking to find new ones. More diversified sources can help complete a data set and offer a larger pool of demographic, geographic, and contextual signals. This not only provides scale, but also ensures each ad impression is relevant to a product or service.

The best digital ad providers use multiple sources to cross-check data points, confirm their validity, and find patterns in behavior. Let’s say, for example, two sources report a data signal at a certain location. There’s much more confidence that the point is accurate and that the impression would then be relevant to the campaign.

3. Get the data right.

We all know data accuracy is important. In fact, good data is the fuel for great personalization, which enables advertisers to give people what they want — sometimes even before they ask.

But bad data wastes impressions and spends more money than necessary. It also increases the chances of alienating consumers with irrelevant ads, which can damage the reputation of a brand.

So it is time and effort well spent to connect with data providers who work hard to ensure accurate data is bringing in a lot of solid, strong signals while filtering out the bad information.

4. Build a powerful consumer intent engine.

The digital ad value chain is often made up of multiple vendors. One will provide data, another will aggregate and house it, and yet another will use the data to execute a campaign. There might also be a fourth vendor analyzing the results.

Part of the problem with this practice involves digital advertising privacy. There’s no single way to handle sensitive customer data, which results in various consumer data security protocols. This naturally increases the potential of online advertising privacy issues between brands and consumers.

It also increases the risk of lost data. Some data might fall out, while other data might get misaligned, which results in wasted impressions. Advertisers are putting their brands in the position where you have a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend — and so on.

Ideally, you will have one vendor or set of vendors with a common language to handle the entire process without data loss.

5. Put your location data into the game.

Location data can help avoid some privacy concerns associated with personally identifiable information. The focus then is on the geographic location as opposed to the consumers themselves. And location can tell you a lot, from the kind of audience that frequents that location to what people at that location tend to be in the market for.

Maintaining consumer data security is a win for both brand and consumer. And as the amount of data continues to grow, each layer of security just makes good business sense. It could mean the difference between consumer trust and consumer doubt.