What is Preference Management?

Claire Feeney

Director, OneTrust PreferenceChoice at OneTrust PreferenceChoice

Learning Objectives

In today’s modern privacy landscape, marketers much evaluate consent practices, data collection, and how to honor audience expectations and preferences. There is a lot to address to meet compliance requirements and customer expectations, but there is also an opportunity to build trust, honor audience choices, and deliver on a brand promise around privacy — that is where preference management comes in!

In this session, we’ll explore preference management strategies, transparent user experiences designed to build trust, and how to get started.

"Highlight the transparency that you're offering to your audience as a way to kind of build in trust, to build in privacy as part of your mission statement, your brand promise, what you're delivering to your audience to continue to build that trust. "

Claire Feeney

Director, OneTrust PreferenceChoice at OneTrust PreferenceChoice


Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining our session on what is preference management. My name is Claire Feeney, and I’m Global Director at One Trust Preference Choice. Preference Choice’s offering is geared towards marketers, publishers—those in the ad tech space—helping them build trust into part of their privacy program and privacy initiatives throughout their organizations.

My background is all in Marketing. Most recently, I was at VMware in product marketing for about seven years. Prior to that, with a couple different startups in all different marketing positions, [inaudible] Gem Events, product marketing, you name it.

What I get to do now is work with marketers on how to bring transparency into the organization, how to build trust with their audiences, leveraging some things that you might find in a privacy program, and then kind of going beyond that what you need to do from a compliance and regulatory standpoint to really be strategic. A big part of that is looking at preference management. We’re going to talk a little bit about what preference management is. What are the applications of preference management in an organization? Take a look at some great examples from some of our customers that are out there that really demonstrate this in the real world.

First, looking at preference management. What is preference management? At a very basic level, preference management is enabling your audience, whether that’s customers, prospects, even employees or partners, to select their preferences for communication. What that looks like, typically, is you’ll have some sort of preference center. You can see I have an example here of a mock up of a preference center. Basically, a preference center is a digital destination that you make available to your audience. It’s where you empower your users to make choices when it comes to their communication. I think important to that going hand in hand in that is choices when it comes to communication, as well as what they’ve consented to, what they’ve opted into, what they’ve subscribed to, making sure that you’re honoring those choices, not only from a compliance perspective with regulations, like the GDPR or CCPA, but making sure that you’re capturing any other options beyond that and honoring choices that your audience is making. It’s also a great place to inform your users about their privacy rights—the data that you’ve collected from them and about them and how you’re using that data.

From a marketing perspective, it’s also a great opportunity to highlight your approach to privacy programs. Highlight the transparency that you’re offering to your audience as a way to kind of build in trust, to build in privacy as part of your mission statement, your brand promise, what you’re delivering to your audience to continue to build that trust.

Looking at this in practice, and when we think about what this can deliver to your audience, we see our customers moving towards using a preference center and incorporating it into a bigger privacy portal or trust center, as some people are calling it. In addition to what you may have set up today with web forms or cookie banners on your website, email, footers, offering an unsubscribe link, going beyond just that, which is typically the bare minimum for compliance. When you have a digital destination, privacy portal, preference center, trust center, whatever you end up calling it.

In this example here, you can see that we’re highlighting what our approach to privacy is. Again, just a mock up, not a real life example, but basically saying and introducing your audience to, we created this portal to help you be informed, empowered, and secure. You can see transparency, integrity, and user empowerment, spelled out a little bit more clearly here as well. We also have options for our customers, our audience to look at their preferences, look at the data that’s included in their profile today, as well as look at specific privacy rights and policies that apply based on geolocation or other factors available to this particular customer, and review cookie settings as well as a part of that opt in and privacy program.

Looking at these in a little bit more detail of what preference management should look like, and the different aspects of it. Looking at, first of all, communication preferences. The very basic level email, we usually have a binary: Are you subscribed? Are you unsubscribed? That puts marketers in a vulnerable position because if we aren’t collecting information from our users about what they want to hear about, how often they’re willing to hear from us, what type of communication they’re willing to get from us, whether that’s an email, or text message or phone call. If there’s something that they’re getting from us that they don’t want, and the only option to them is an unsubscribe, that’s a big risk to marketers and a big loss of opportunity. If there’s a customer or prospect out there that wants to sample product updates or wants to hear about promotions, but doesn’t care to get every event email that I have or every invitation to your virtual event or webinar that I’m running. If I give my audience the ability to do what we call “opt down”, instead of opting out as part of our preference management strategy, then I can retain that contact. Retain more of my audience, and actually tailor to them in a better way, in the way that they’re requesting to be communicated with, what they’re requesting to hear about. Overall, I should see more impact with my campaigns and with my communications, going to a more segmented tailored audience that’s actually choosing to hear from me.

You’ll also see that I have a full consent history. What I’ve opted into historically here, we updated frequency preferences, and that really goes into a full transparency and record keeping that I’m willing to share with my audience, and goes a long way to earning their trust.

Next, just in my user profile, you can see demographic information here that I’m able to actually edit and update, as needed. On the right hand side here, when I have just other preferences, can be anything and everything created in a custom way. When you think about it as a marketer, some of those not necessarily demographic, not necessarily behavioral info that I’m taking or inferring from purchasing history or behavior on my website, let’s say. There’s always kind of these questions that are maybe particular to your organization, your industry, or even to a subset of your consumers, that will be super helpful to know. This is an opportunity where you can ask these questions and gather what we call either zero party or first party data. That’s going to be information that’s volunteered by my audience that comes directly from them and about them.

One of our customers, recently, with the shutdown and we’re not doing in person events anymore. They want it to be creative about keeping in contact with customers that they would typically see it in person events. They actually ran a campaign to collect home addresses from their customers that they had never done before, through their website, through an email campaign and asked for t-shirt sizes, which is why I’ve added that here. They sent kind of these care packages to their customers with some of the swag that they had ordered and they had on hand for the different trade shows that was obviously cancelled and didn’t really have a use for, so I thought it was a really creative way to kind of collect new data. Collect not only demographic data, but something a little unique and a t-shirt size. Perhaps not the most exciting thing ever, but also a great way to keep in contact with customers, and kind of be a little agile when it comes to marketing without in person events that a lot of us have traditionally rely upon.

[Unintelligible] see here. Great place to explain. In this case, my home address as this user, I’m based in California, so the CCPA applies to me. Looking at what kind of data requests are available, data deletion, unsubscribe. Then, making sure that I’m explaining and being fully transparent of what exactly each of those requests mean, because the last thing you want is a data deletion request or overloading your teams with data access requests that may be challenging to honor depending on what tools and systems you have in place. You also don’t want someone unsubscribing completely if they just want to pare down the topics that they hear from you about or the frequency that they’re getting emails from you. You can see that we’ve had that opt down option here as well.

We’re going to wrap up privacy. We’ve all seen all the cookie banners that pop up on websites as we visit them. Again, making sure you’re being fully transparent, explaining what cookies are strictly necessary, what are actually targeting cookies, what exactly that means, and giving the granular choices to my users here to either opt in or opt out as they want to for each category. Finally, what I think one of the biggest opportunities is, in addition to taking in communication, preferences, taking in preferences that might be unique, as far as comes to drink preferences, seat preferences. If I’m an airline, check-in preferences. If I’m a hotel, let’s say, in addition to the privacy choices that we have, an area to highlight what your principles are, what you’re delivering to your users, and how you’re going to honor their choices when it comes to data and communication. It’s a great way to put kind of all of your FA cues, and highlight any certificates, industry specific regulations, guidelines, frameworks that you follow when it comes to your data management policies.

We’re going to look at just a couple of examples of this out in the real world. The first one is a pretty simple preference center and missable preference center when it comes to actually collecting subscriptions. If you go to Siemens, all of the news publications and invitations that you’d like to receive can be tailored to your personal interest. So they say, all you have to do is create your personal profile to find your preferences, and you’re kind of off and running. This is a form that anybody can get to on their website, fill out the demographic information that’s requested. Then, at the bottom of the form, actually fill out an addition to the the opt in and the consent that’s given here in the bottom left hand corner, to receive marketing materials, and see that they’ve taken a really granular look at topics right off the bat when it comes to subscribing to any marketing materials.

Another example I wanted to share is with the WB in their privacy portal that they’ve developed. A little bit more—the Siemens example totally focused on marketing, marketing subscriptions, and really granular on the topics that users can choose from. With the WB, really focused on privacy, and using their approach to privacy, as you know, a great way to build trust with their audience. They’ve done a great job in fusing transparency, user empowerment, explaining their security practices, and also with this lasting integrity here building into their mission statement, and really explaining how their approach to privacy is beneficial for their users for their customers. You can see they have a preference center, specifically around marketing emails. That’s part of this privacy portal. You’re able to kind of exercise your rights in this case, as a California resident for access requests, opting out of sales, deletion requests. As you go through it, each one is fully explained as well as what the next step is they need to submit an access request in this case, submitted do not sell, submitted delete request, all kind of fully defined, very clear and transparent.

This level of investment and this level of effort really demonstrates to me, as a visitor to the site or as a user, as a customer, that they’re taking privacy seriously, they’re taking security seriously. They’re able to explain and articulate exactly how they’re protecting my data, how they’re using my data, and how they’re honoring the choices that I’m making about being communicated to and with from this organization. Great example of combining preferences and privacy together in this privacy center, and really demonstrating those values around protecting user data and protecting users. No access, rights, requests, and all the privileges that they’re granted as California residents in this case. What I have those two examples demonstrate, and what I work with our customers to do is really looking at the opportunity that preference management presents to us as marketers.

I think the first thing really is the most strategic around collecting that zero party or first party data. Information that my customers or my prospects are volunteering about themselves is going to let me know them in new ways, first of all, just when it comes to the very basic communication preferences. If I create custom questions, that’s even better to gather that proprietary data, understand my customers in new ways. I can more easily segment my audience, maybe for different campaigns or promoting different products. I’m even segmenting them in ways where I know that somebody—this particular segment prefers text messages, SMS messages, and this segment prefers email—then, I can concentrate on specific deliverables when it comes to planning for my campaigns. This also is going to lessen my dependency on third party data. When we look at the data that’s in our ecosystem, data that we depend on today, whether it’s through third party cookies, and some of the tracking technologies that you were aware of will go away over the next couple of years. I think we can only anticipate more countries, more states in the US, potentially coming on board with privacy regulations and new nuances that we haven’t addressed yet as part of the GDPR CCPA. When you think about the technology ecosystem, the regulatory environment, the things that are outside of our control, what we can control is what can our customers provide to us from themselves to build our dataset, but of course, you consented coming directly from them—super reliable.

The second big opportunity for marketers that I see is really around transparency, and the branding that you can do when you talk about preference management. Instead of just presenting to my audience the option to unsubscribe or a super simple “Tell me what you want to hear about,” and that’s it. If you’re really thoughtful about using preference management as a strategy, especially building upon any kind of privacy program that you have, that addresses compliance, and compliance with regulations that apply to your organization, it can really be used as a tool to build trust with customers, drive loyalty, and become a part of the user experience that you create for your audience.

There’s several studies of [unintelligible] by Deloitte recently that looks at how customers —the trust in how you’re using their data and how you’re managing their security equates to higher propensity to buy from those organizations, but there’s still a huge gap in where consumers are reporting what they understand about how different organizations are handling their data, or handling their security. There’s a huge opportunity to set your brand apart when it comes to being transparent with your audience and building that trust.

Finally, with compliance, making sure that you’re collecting consent. You can do that as part of preference centers, making sure the proper receipts and records. What I think is most important is making sure you have a way to report on where you’re driving the most opt-ins, and where maybe you can refine an opt-in subscription collection point, maybe in the language that you’re using, maybe in the layout, banner placement, what have you. All of that stuff and design and user experience comes into play when you’re driving those opt-ins, and you want to make sure that you’re able to understand what’s successful for you and where you can improve as a marketer is the biggest thing in my mind when it comes to consent management. In addition to being compliant, making sure that you’re looking at that and driving the right opt-ins that you expect. Second, making sure that you’re aware of the laws and regulations that apply to you, so that you’re capturing consent in a compliant way, and making sure that you’re not losing access to leads based on a technicality when it comes to compliance.

When we look at how this kind of builds right in practice, in organizations, most are going to start with making sure do we have what we need to have as a baseline when it comes to compliance with things like the CCPA, CASL, GDPR, etc, etc. You build on that by looking at communication methods, getting consent, opt ins, as well as capturing preferences directly from my audience, when it comes to the type of content, the frequency, the channels used for communication and campaigning. Then, on top of that, more of what you might call experiential preferences or custom preferences. Looking at beyond behavioral, this is where the zero first party data comes in, maybe what my food and beverage preferences are, seat selection, day and time, partner engagement preferences, meeting preference, time preferences, maybe collecting time zones, anything that’s kind of missing when it comes to your demographic data or infer data in a way to supplement that and build that proprietary data set.

What’s going to make something successful when it comes to marketers, making sure your consent preference management kind of goes hand in hand. You’re going to be able to empower your users, give them more choice, more control that you’ll honor when it comes to their communication that you have with them. Great way to build brand loyalty, drive revenue when you’re helping your customers understand exactly what you’re doing with their data and giving them choices.

Second, you’re gonna be able to reduce those global unsubscribes. One, because you can implement an opt down strategy instead of just offering unsubscribes as the only option. Then two, if you have a tool in place to track some of this, you should be able to look at reporting where you’re driving most opt in rates to help optimize that and iterate across different collection points where you’re asking for subscriptions and opt in.

Third comes along with making sure you’re able to sync your preferences across your different marketing systems for a consistent user experience when it comes to working with your brand. Making sure that if I’m capturing preferences, or I’m capturing opt ins, that I’m communicating that out to the different marketing systems that I have, so whether that’s a marketing automation tool, your email system that I’m using, in CRMs, when it comes to sending campaigns, maybe from Salesforce, making sure that everyone’s referencing the same preferences so that my user has the same experience, no matter who they’re talking to in the organization or what systems they’re interacting with. Making sure, of course, that there’s an accurate record for all of your martech systems to reference to make sure that’s always accurate and up to date. And of course, for your end user, for your audience, you’re going to want to give them a branded experience across all their devices, whether they’re coming from an app of yours, your website, from the email footer, from a webform, making sure that they’re able to access this preference center that you’re setting up, and that it’s consistent for them no matter where they’re coming from, what device they’re using.

They give you a little bit about preference management, how marketers are starting to incorporate that to grow from a privacy program into a trust program with their audience. We just want to end with a little bit of how preference choice is helping with our customers in different organizations. What we’re looking at is moving from a privacy centric compliance centric approach to privacy first, but customer centric approach for compliance and consent preference management. Our tools help automate compliance for marketing teams, making it super easy for you to be compliant, especially when it comes to consent management and options, especially as it pertains to the GDPR in compliance with that regulation. We also help with preference centers building preference centers. We help marketers to design transparent user experiences, set up a single source of truth when it comes to consent and preferences, so they are honoring those choices throughout your martech stack.

Finally, make sure your future proofing your strategy because you have the toolset to manage not only compliance today, customer consent, and preferences today, but making sure you’re future proofing yourself against other regulations that may apply and helping to build that proprietary data set. You have that internally and aren’t reliant on third party sources, things outside of your control, that might change in our overall ecosystem.

How we do that, in our tool set, is we first address privacy and compliance with tools for cookie consent capture, cookie compliance, any privacy rights or requests that come in, as well as policy and notice, and consent management. We expand on that and build on that significantly, specifically for marketers when it comes to preference management, and how we can support know your customer projects, looking at data deduplication, and really building a customer profile that’s inclusive of that zero first party data, as well as consent and communication preferences choices. Making sure that synced across your system, so that you’re delivering that consistent user experience, and honoring all of the choices that you’re making. All of this is built with AI robotic automation in mind to help you know what data you have about your customers, know which laws apply, and automate as much as possible.

We wanted to also share some recent recognition from [unintelligible], one trust and specifically preference choice with privacy and consent management software. We were the only vendor to earn the highest designation of strong positive across all nine categories. We are product innovation, and markets as well as overall leader in this report. Great analysis on a lot of vendors, and looking at a lot of categories when it comes to product innovation especially, so encourage you to check this one out. What I like about this report is it really highlights the ultimate goal that we have with our platform is looking at—I always like to say trust isn’t built in a silo, you have to have different teams involved, whether it’s your legal team, your marketing team, IT, if you have a data team, etc, etc, etc. It really has to be baked throughout your organization. I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways when it comes to evaluating any kind of privacy security, or preference vendor. How you’re going to turn your organization into a more trusted organization.

As I mentioned, knowing your data and knowing your laws, powered by AI robotic automation—pretty impossible to do that manually with all of the different global laws and the vast amount of data that we capture. What our platform does is really help each team, whether it’s infosec, privacy, security, legal teams, HR, ethics, and of course, what we looked at today with marketing and media teams, helping them work together to build trust with their audiences.

Finally, I’ll leave you this, looking at being a more trusted organization. The number one most widely used platform to manage privacy, security, and governance, helping operationalize that trust building with your audience. We’re a global organization. Would love to hear from you, no matter where you are. I’ll leave you with my contact information. Again, my name is Claire Feeney. My email and my phone number are here. Love to chat with you, whether it’s today at the event or later on. Thank you.

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