By Amy Blasco, Senior Vice President, Experience Analytics at RAPP


Effective Jan. 1, the unfettered use of consumer data ceased — at least in the great state of California. With the passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act, the safeguards to protect someone’s identity, anonymity, and personal information in real life have moved into the digital realm. And it isn’t just impacting the Googles of the world. Loyalty programs, credit card companies, and any other entity that collects and processes personal data must rethink how they gather, use, and disclose this particular commodity.

Amy Blasco, Senior Vice President, Experience Analytics at RAPP

It gets even trickier for those in the pharmaceutical industry with HIPAA regulations, as the California privacy law exempts protected health information captured by covered entities or business associates. Sounds simple enough, but not all patient information is PHI, so it doesn’t necessarily fall within the HIPAA-exempt status.

As a result, marketers need to pay careful attention when integrating claims data or propensity models based on claims data. Though your ability to target with precision increases, you’ll be walking a fine line between legal and criminal behavior. You’re also putting into question how much consumers can trust you, which can come back to haunt you should bills similar to California’s law hit other states.

That’s why it’s so important to examine what organizational changes your company can make to stay ahead of the curve with data privacy. If you’re not currently compliant, the time is nigh.

Nay. It’s now.

A Private Hurdle

Making organizational changes to stay in line with California’s law and stricter General Data Protection Regulation-style data regulations may sound like a tall order, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even those companies with data-heavy digital strategies can easily take the steps necessary to comply — while still utilizing many of their existing practices. All it really takes is a few shifts in your internal practices and digital media strategy across the board, not just for Californians alone.

Start off with the following:

  1. Review your internal operations. Privacy regulations provide an opportunity to take a closer look at your business processes in regard to data. It also gives companies with limited data-related executions an opening to position themselves as leaders in this “new world.”

As such, publish a clear privacy policy online detailing the consumer’s rights; the data categories collected, sold, and disclosed for business purposes; and what measures your company has taken to secure data.

You may also want to set up a toll-free number and webpage for consumers to submit data-related requests. Explain the submission process and when to expect a response from your organization on next steps.

But don’t stop there. Go one step further and provide a clear link on your website to opt out. Title the link something like “Do Not Sell My Personal Information.” Then, refrain from requesting them to opt in for at least 12 months.

To make the whole process much easier, consider pulling together an internal team to help verify and respond to consumer requests. Just make sure to train them per the full CCPA guidelines.

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.Consumers control their own data, and everyone should understand this — internally and externally. Educate both employees and customers on the requirements of privacy regulations. Make sure people understand that consumers have the right to erasure, where your company must delete personal data should someone request it.

They also have the right to “opt out” of the sale of their personal information, the right to know a company’s data collection and sharing practices, and the right to access (upon verifiable request) their personal information.

It’s also important to note that businesses are prohibited from discriminating against consumers for exercising their rights under the CCPA. Drill this point home to any team member interacting directly with the end user.

  1. Move away from broad data usability. Most pharmaceutical companies rely heavily on consumer data. Because of this, a broader application of CCPA rules across the U.S. — either by state mandate or by company self-regulation — could lead to a significant loss in display media.

To counteract this, re-evaluate your modeling capabilities to determine the usefulness and accuracy of data. Is a predictive model actually predictive? Also, use attitudinal-tracking studies and explore other “opt-in panel” tracking solutions. Doing so will allow for deep learnings, just at the demographic and behavioral levels.

From there, move toward more contextual media strategies. One of the most common is to go the “cultural conversation” route, in which your organization takes a stand on issues affecting your customers or the community as a whole. Think of it as building a brand voice beyond banners. Besides, 75% of global consumers expect as much from brands.

You may also want to focus your attention on customer relations, where you define how you will (and won’t) be using data to create personalized experiences. Should other pharmaceutical players openly adopt CCPA, you now have a planned response. You’re already working within the expected limitations.

Privacy is becoming the norm, and the onus is on you to provide the protection consumer now expect from each and every brand. But if you get out in front of it, and offer up information on your data privacy policies, you could secure the competitive advantage you’ve been looking for.


About the author

Amy Blasco is a seasoned cross-channel marketer and analytics leader with a proven track record of driving high-growth programs, providing cross-channel measurement, testing framework and optimizations strategy. Since joining RAPP, she has focused her attention primarily on innovating healthcare, bringing cutting-edge, next-best-action analytics to fruition on Eli Lilly’s strategic accounts to drive patient-focused, data-driven planning and implementation at each stage of the journey.