There was a moment in time not so long ago where small media companies started to crumble. These companies relied solely on ad revenue generated from the traffic driven to their sites. At that time, the traffic was free. There was such a heavy reliance on free traffic that once search algorithms changed, companies started to see audience declines north of 60%. Many had grown based on the revenue generated solely from organic search and once that dissipated, they started to fold. I know this first hand because I had to help dismantle some of these companies.
I would prefer to never have to experience that again. Removing 70% of the staff from a company in 1 month is not something I ever want to happen. So when I see companies start to rely heavily on single threaded marketing strategies, ignore regulatory changes, or close their eyes to the technology transformations in front of them, I start to worry. Because, there are times when reacting to a disruption means you are already too late to properly address it.
There are three immediate areas where marketers should focus their attention if they wish to weather future storms: diversify channels, pay close attention to regulatory and sentiment changes, and un-platform stacks. For the purposes of this post, we will focus soley on the second item (see “‘Un-Platform’ Your tech Stack” — Avanti Gade for a meaningful perspective). Some of our predictions for regulatory and sentiment changes are as follows:
- GDPR was the edge of the wedge; be prepared for more (aggressive) regulation to come. We all know about GDPR and CCPA, and are following what is happening in other states and countries. These are policies we saw coming, yet many were still unprepared. This is a one-directional trend that you must account for. Additional states will pass regulations, the call for a federal approach will increase, and there will be a scarcity in the necessary resources to implement these policies. A forward looking organization will begin to staff for privacy and start to look toward future policies (don’t be surprised if ethical AI becomes more of a factor early next year).
- Changes in user sentiment toward privacy will force companies to proactively address data collection and usage ahead of new regulations. Political beliefs aside, the growing cacophony of advertisers banning certain platforms has nothing to do with regulations and everything to do with consumer and societal sentiment. Organizations must prepare for the potential of consumer driven ethical regulations that their consumers/users/audiences place on them, which will often be more aggressive and meaningful than most government policies.
- A large percentage of technologies will supersede policy and more aggressively pursue privacy controls. The browser wars are over? Maybe for end users, but for marketers a new battle will brew with upstarts like Brave (https://brave.com/) grabbing attention (“Joe Rogan Backs Privacy-Focused Brave Web Browser” — by Stephanie Mlot, PCMag). Cookies will fall, browsers will become more restrictive, and the challenges will grow. Privacy focused technologies will continue to push marketers down a path they may not want, but should quickly get ready for.
It’s time for marketers to plan their strategies around disruption. For the foreseeable future, we will be witness to countless forces that will drive changes in the market. Some of these forces will result in significant policy adjustments and others will cause change without regulations. Now is the time to plan and prepare versus the reactionary position that is often taken by so many.