On September 16, Apple released iOS 14 after months of hype and speculation surrounding the features of its latest mobile operating system. Separately, on November 3, California voters passed the Consumer Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), further strengthening the state’s digital consumer privacy protections beyond the current California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). These are just two recent examples of changes designed to protect consumer privacy that are grabbing the advertising world’s attention.

Specifically, iOS 14 added choices that give users more control on the tracking of their location and device ID. With this update, users now have the ability to tell an app their approximate location rather than their precise GPS coordinates. In early 2021, apps will also be required to ask for users’ consent to track device IDs across websites and apps. These changes come on the heels of Google’s announcement about no longer supporting third-party cookies in Chrome.

As for the CPRA, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, it will bolster the current CCPA rules to deliver even more protections to California consumers. Among other changes, the CPRA introduces a new category of “sensitive personal information,” and expands the “do not sell” language from CCPA to now include data shared between companies, which will have a direct impact on ad tech companies.

No one questions the importance of supporting consumer choice and the rights afforded to them to control their data. But, we also know consumers appreciate relevant advertising. Recent research from Valassis found that more than half of consumers have a positive view of brands that send them relevant messages and deals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 90% of consumers surveyed indicated an appreciation for brands that delivered relevant and timely information during that difficult period.

All of this creates an interesting challenge: How can marketers reach their ideal audiences with relevant messages while maintaining and respecting consumer privacy?

Here are four ways for balancing these seemingly competing goals:

1. Find partners with the flexibility to adapt to the evolving ad tech industry.

The reality is that new iPhone privacy settings restrict marketers’ ability to capture a full picture of consumer behavior. Not knowing where and when specific consumers are engaging or shopping puts greater limitations on customization, targeting, and reach.

However, flexibility and adaptability have long been critical traits for responding to changes in the marketplace, and the circumstances here are no different. Talk with partners and ask how these changes impact their targeting, media execution, and measurement. Look for partners who own their tech stack and can be nimble to adapting to marketplace changes and dynamics. Partners who do not own their tech stack may lack the flexibility to easily adapt their services or quickly find solutions to maintain advertising performance.

2. Rely on partners that can provide relevant targeting.

It’s hard to know at this stage how consumers will respond to these privacy changes, but we anticipate that the industry will see a decrease in precise location data and fewer device signals. Smaller audiences will, in turn, limit the ability to reach consumers at scale to drive performance.

As consumers take greater control over their data privacy, it limits the digital identifiers used to deliver individualized ad experiences to them. Should mobile device IDs and cookies be completely off the table, you’ll need to find other means of understanding consumer behavior. The best partners analyze diverse data sources, using proven advanced modeling techniques to go beyond 1:1 targeting to reach clusters of high-value consumers.

3. Leverage first-party data with advanced modeling to scale predictive audiences.

It’s still possible to reach unique consumers, but more consumer privacy choices are creating new obstacles to do this at any real scale. Leveraging your known first-party data to build predictive look-alike models will help you to identify more top prospects at scale. This allows you to deliver multichannel advertising to a richer ideal prospect pool to grow your business.

4. Move beyond consumer behavior to understand media usage.

Like consumer behavior, media usage can be an indicator of consumer response. For example, frequency and time of day for visiting a particular website provides insight to predict where and when consumers are likely to respond to digital ads. Advanced machine learning models can help capture information like media exposure, engagement, and conversion to inform decisions on the best channel to drive awareness and sales.

How Valassis Delivers Consumer Privacy and Digital Ad Performance

Change in ad tech will continue to be a constant. Embrace it. Making the choice to partner with companies who can easily adapt to these changes and continue to drive performance will put you front and center (in a good way) of the data and privacy revolution. As the marketplace evolves, Valassis will continue to adapt and innovate our technology to help brands reach and engage today’s omnichannel consumer to drive commerce.

If you’d like to learn more about how Valassis’ technology discovers new high-value markets, targets, and ways to reach consumers, visit our Illumis page.

Amanda Shelton is an executive director of product at Valassis. An expert product leader in the advertising space, Amanda has been driving strategy for Valassis’ digital advertising and data solutions, including the industry-leading Valassis Consumer Graph™.