What the future of privacy means for eCommerce advertisers

By Georgina Wall | Sponsored

Georgina Wall, General Manager - Product & Partnerships, Resolution Digital 

As the Australian digital landscape braces for regulatory changes to further impact the way privacy is treated in an online setting, what is the impact of reduced identification and measurement within eCommerce?

Many countries have already introduced government legislations such as GDPR that enforce restrictions around personally identifiable information, whilst Apple continue to evolve their privacy focus, and Google recently announced their new privacy tool “Google Ads Centre”, where users will be able to choose which types of ads they want to see and opt out of the ones they don’t.

There is no doubt further changes are coming which are aimed at increasing control to the end user in terms of what data they share, and how this is used, yet causing advertisers and brands concern.

Impact to eCommerce

Whilst it’s likely most, if not all, advertisers will need to adjust their strategy, online retailers should consider how future changes may affect them.

When we talk about eCommerce, there are three main categories with varying impact assessments:

  • Direct to Consumer (D2C)

Selling direct from a website relies on advertising throughout the digital ecosystem to drive purchase, and therefore will likely see the most impact from increasing privacy protocols

  • Marketplaces (Amazon, eBay)

Relying heavily on in-platform signals to feed machine learning efforts that drive targeting and measurement will mean that marketplaces see less of an impact as many users either log in, or display behaviours similar to those that have logged in.

  • Retailer Marketing (Citrus, Cartology)

These platforms are far less complex in the way they target advertising, leveraging contextual signals like category placement and intent-based such as on-site search, with minimal impact to additional options like demographic, which tend to not lean on any PII and therefore will see minimal impact.

The impact to eCommerce advertisers will vary based on the method of selling, with retailer environments being the least impacted due to the high inten nature of the environments. D2C on the other hand spans a far wider breadth of channels and tactics and therefore being far more susceptible to evolving privacy focussed frameworks, which is a large factor with cross-site tracking and identification of users.

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Considerations throughout the funnel

Resolution Digital’s eCommerce framework is built around four key pillars, driving users from the point of initial consideration through discovery, the sales funnel, and of course creating advocacy. Driving consumers through this funnel relies on the identification of the target audience, which is where D2C advertisers will experience the greatest challenges.

Combining this targeting challenge with the impact privacy protocols like Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention, and App Tracking Transparency (ATT) have on platform attribution and measurement - diluting and aggregating user sets - advertisers are forced to place faith (and budgets) in the hands of the technology and capabilities within the platforms they are buying through.

First party data has been touted as the saviour of targeting for a while now, however heightened regulation over use of data is likely to cause issues, with match rates fluctuating from platform to platform, and obfuscated email options further posing challenges to both targeting and personalisation.

Whilst first-party data strategies focus on advocacy and cross-sell opportunities to known customers who have actively shared and opted into communications via email and alike, the use of first-party data (1PD) within the broader advertising ecosystem will not be so straight forward.

Discoverability and Share of Shelf

Share of shelf relies on being discoverable to audiences that matter. Certain categories are harder than others, like “sensitive” healthcare verticals, where platforms such as Meta are making changes to the targeting options to protect user privacy.

In-platform storefronts such as Facebook Shops enable the use of platform signals to counter loss of cross-environment tracking capabilities and reduce friction in the user journey. Taking away the need to even visit the retailer site places the larger walled gardens in a prime position to mitigate ad revenue loss, and enables advertisers to leverage in-platform identification to reach relevant consumers.

What about product feeds?

The product feed is the heart of an eCommerce campaign. Traditional shopping campaigns were manual, feed-based ads which rendered based on user intent. So, on face value, this impacts retailers minimally, however as we see shopping formats evolve – Google’s “Smart” Shopping born from “Standard” (manual), and due to be sunsetted in favour of fully automated ad type “Performance Max” - matching products to users based on the feed attributes becomes more predictive and reliant identification of users.

Platforms relying on feeds to populate multi-capsule units, such as Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads lean on the product feed to serve relevant advertising experiences. Walled gardens like Google and Meta are heavily investing in the automation area of product development – using platform engagement signals to create a profile of the user. 

This investment is reassuring to many, given the commercial impact to business models for the walled gardens, so efficiency and scale will likely be looked after in the long term, however with less personal attributes being shared, the personalisation aspect is heavily impacted and as soon as the user leaves that platform, they are effectively a whole different person for retailers to identify in the next environment they visit. This creates a highly fragmented user journey, making it more difficult for retailers to connect and convert, from point discovery through to purchase.


Change is coming, and retailers need to remain agile to reduce impact to online revenue streams.

Maximising the use of platform tools and technology is key to driving efficiency and not sacrificing scale to your target consumers, and a frictionless consumer journey is equally important. Whether driving to the website, virtual storefront, or marketplace pages, the user experience should be seamless and connected.

When it comes to campaigns, ensuring the foundations are strong, which includes having a well-optimised product feed, keeping up with platform hygiene, and integrating a robust data strategy, are all fundamental areas advertisers should focus on for future eCommerce success.

About Resolution Digital 

Resolution Digital is a full-service award-winning digital agency. Our mission is to deliver remarkable results for our clients.

Their approach to delivering results is based on combining deep skills and experience in brand, performance, experience, and insights, across all touchpoints on the digital user journey.

Resolution Digital has a team of over 400 digital experts have been providing digital solutions to clients in Australia for over 15 years. Resolution a trusted long-term partner for many clients, from start-ups to large, listed businesses.

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