How Privacy Is Affecting Marketing Around the World

You can theorize all you want about the future of privacy as it pertains to digital marketing. And with a little research (and by little, we mean a whole lot), you'll get a ballpark idea of what the evolution of the online space holds. However, you'll never get a better idea than by asking a specialist from Google.

What's that? You don't have access to a high-level Google expert whose job description revolves around metrics and data? We've got you covered as Kevin Hartman, Chief Analytics Evangelist at Google stops in to drop some knowledge bombs regarding the future of privacy.

Kevin is responsible for designing and scaling strategies around data collection and data analysis for Google's largest advertisers. He helps them tackle their biggest, hairiest challenges with data. In other words, we pulled out the big guns for this matter; a matter that's on most business owners' minds.

Zero Moment of Truth

The concept of zero moment of truth was introduced by Google in 2011 to revolutionize and update the traditional 3 step marketing that Procter & Gamble had created. The Procter & Gamble model, created in 2005, focused on three levels of the customer's journey:


The stimulus is the initial nudge that the consumer receives in the direction of a product. This stimulus can come from a television ad or other sort of advertising and causes the realization that there is a need. Whether the viewer has run out of a product or is introduced to a new offering, they are compelled to examine a purchase.

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First Moment of Truth

After the stimulus comes the first moment of truth, according to the P&G model. This is when the consumer is standing in the aisle, having to choose between two or more brands. Both the stimulus as well as the new circumstances the consumer is privy to due to their physical proximity to the products will guide the choice.

Second Moment of Truth

Finally, the second moment of truth is when the consumer brings the product home and has to decide whether it lives up to expectations. The experience of consuming the product will lead to either a closer relationship with the brand, i.e. purchasing again in the future or the act of seeking out an alternative.

Where Google Comes In

Google identified that there's a great amount of pre-shopping behavior that consumers are engaging in, particularly as the internet is becoming more important. Users check out blogs and other channels that will arm them with the necessary tools to guide their choice.

Why Is the Zero Moment of Truth Important for Digital Marketing?

All of the interactions that are taking place during the zero moment of truth are an opportunity for a brand to connect to a consumer, influence behavior, shape the brand perception they want consumers to have, and plant a call to action.

It's also an important opportunity to learn about consumers. Every time a user views an ad, Google knows what they're interested in and every time they skip an ad, Google knows what they're not interested in. Likewise, every time consumers like a page on Facebook, you can ascertain what their interests are.

With the introduction of the information technology known as the internet, consumer behavior has changed, allowing brands to adapt to these changes. Because these changes are digital, they become quantifiable data that brands can use as opposed to subjective signs up for interpretation.

Why Are Many Companies Failing to Utilize the Zero Moment of Truth?

As with any other aspect of business, it's the presence of inefficiencies that differentiates market players. The reason why some competitors thrive while others struggle revolves around the ability to adapt to changes and take advantage of circumstances and knowledge.

As per Kevin Hartman, a big component of being able to connect with users is digital maturity. You need to have systems in place, an understanding of data, and the ability to do something with those data. Furthermore, you need strong analytics capabilities, strong partnerships with the platforms and others that are generating the data.

Many companies lack the leadership to unite the organization under a set of KPIs of what digital should be. Privacy challenges and the abuse that have been seen in data collection make it even more challenging for brands to collect data during zero moment of truth.

Digital maturity

Digital maturity describes the extent to which an organization can respond to the needs of the digital marketplace. It ensures that the organization can take advantage of the digital opportunities available.

A lack of digital maturity results in a company letting the advantages presented by the zero moment of truth slip by.

Boston Consulting Group and Bain Consulting, among others, have codified what digital maturity means to the point where you can earn a score for it. An organization that stays up to date with trends, acquires the necessary equipment and technology and makes sure its employees receive the proper training, is one that possesses a high level of digital maturity.

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Bad Actors

If the online space was an angelical marketplace of well-to-do users, you would never see drastic changes in the area of privacy. It is because of bad actors that Google is currently moving to a paradigm shift, including the end of third-party cookies in Chrome.

The major platforms rely on ad revenue to be able to offer the free experience that users enjoy. Some actors cut corners and act irresponsibly. Others purposely misuse consumer data without consent, often resulting in litigation and even Congressional hearings.

Kevin Hartman notes an example where consumers might be downloading a marathon training app but, in reality, that service is used to report what restaurant those users are attending among other private information. There is a need for users to be able to opt-out of data collection and major tech providers are taking notice.

What Can Businesses Do in an Environment With Less Data Due to Privacy Changes?

To come out on top, businesses must offer value to consumers to be given more data in return. Furthermore, businesses need to implement strategies that turn first-party data into value. How you segment consumers, build lifetime value, and other insights from the data you collect will shape the accuracy of the conclusions you come to.

Kevin also suggests leaning into partnerships, identifying the good and bad actors, and asking for transparency. Understanding how the post-pandemic world will work will play a big role in mapping out your data strategy.


Kevin is involved in ELVTR, an online learning platform designed for professionals who want to go deeper into specific skill areas. ELVTR is a collection of valuable industry knowledge.

On the platform, Kevin teaches a digital analytics course. Spotify, Facebook, and other big companies are on ELVTR with a depth of understanding and knowledge that they're willing to share.

For those that want to take advantage of the wealth of information that Google's Chief Analytics Evangelist has to offer, Kevin's book, Digital Marketing Analytics: In Theory and in Practice, is a must.