Digital marketing playbooks have been turned upside down by recent data privacy changes, mandating an existential shift for fashion brands that once relied on customer targeting tools offered at scale by Silicon Valley’s tech giants. Third-party ad targeting, social media growth hacking techniques and early iterations of loyalty programmes and personalisation had been important contributors to the rise of digital marketing and e-commerce brands.
But a new era has arrived, requiring brands to rethink how they reach new consumers and engage with existing ones. Instead of pushing content to pre-selected groups, as was so effective over the last decade, the key now is to pull in customers with a fast-paced stream of creative campaigns. Once brands have access to valuable first-party data, they can prioritise channels that deliver a strong return on investment and enable them to build deep, long-lasting relationships and foster communities among customers.
The disruption of the digital marketing playbook is a culmination of several years of regulatory and technical shifts that targeted online privacy and security risks. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act — landmark laws rolled out in 2016 and 2020, respectively — have given users more agency over their data. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS 14 software update in 2020 allowed users to opt out of tracking across apps and websites. And as part of its privacy initiatives in 2022, Google plans to discontinue third-party cookie tracking in Chrome, which commands 65 percent of global web browser market share. When given a choice, many consumers are declining tracking: a McKinsey survey found 41 percent of users said they opted out of cookies.
As a result of the tracking limitations, customer acquisition costs have spiked, rising on…