Two Data Privacy Changes That Will Transform Personalization at eBay Classifieds Group

Thanassis Thomopoulos, Head of Global Marketing and Commercial Analytics at eBay Classifieds Group, outlines how Apple’s ‘transparency framework’ and the looming death of cookies will affect his teams’ approach personalization

Data privacy regulations have been ratcheting gradually up globally since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect two years ago. As we move into 2021, two looming developments will transform the way companies provide personalized customer experiences.

In this week’s episode of the Business of Data podcast, eBay Classifieds Group Head of Global Marketing and Commercial Analytics Thanassis Thomopoulos outlines what they are and how his company is preparing for them.

“It’s becoming more and more difficult to recognize people online,” he says. “What this has in terms of a second wave impact is, if you can’t recognize people online, then you will have more challenges in providing personalized experiences and also being able to measure whatever you’re doing online.”

Why eBay Classifieds Group is Preparing for a Cookie-Free World

After some initial disruption, European businesses have largely mastered the art of GDPR compliance. However, legislators are now moving to address the widely hated ‘cookie walls’ that have popped up on many websites as an unintended consequence of the regulations.

“A few months from now, the world will be cookie-less,” Thomopoulos predicts. “That’s very different form what we knew.”

Today, cookies are the main way companies including eBay Classifieds Group recognize people across websites to pass information between websites and provide joined-up experiences.

Thomopoulos warns: “This is something that’s going to be disappearing and, frankly, not everyone has all the answers as to how we’re going to be able to function after that.”

Customer Trust is Essential to the Future of Personalization

A second challenge Thomopoulos highlights is specific to the ‘transparency framework’ outlined in Apple’s iOS 14.

“In their own way, they will give a very obvious and vocal choice to the user on whether they are willing to share their identifier for advertising,” Thomopoulos says.

“We’ve been preparing for this at eBay Classifieds Group and we’ve run a few tests,” he adds. “What we can see is, there’s a sizeable chunk of people who will decline their consent.”

Companies will likely deliver campaigns to communicate the benefits of personalization to customers in response to this new challenge. But eBay Classifieds Group will also be focusing its efforts on getting more users to create and log into profiles on its website.

“To do that, you need to build trust,” Thomopoulos notes. “If I’m a shady website or a website that is well-known for, let’s say, having subpar practices around their information sharing, then I would be very reluctant to do that.”

He concludes: “If it’s a business that I trust – that I love – then I would be totally OK with giving some of my data to in exchange for a better experience. I will do this very gladly.”

Key Takeaways

  • Prepare for a cookie-free world. European companies should be planning for a world without advertising or cross-site cookies
  • Adapt to Apple’s transparency framework. Consider focusing on getting users to create customer accounts to enable personalization
  • Consumer trust is more important than ever. Changing attitudes around data privacy mean companies must work hard to earn their customers’ trust

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