Even one year after the introduction of the new Basic Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the hype surrounding data protection in online business has not yet subsided. Because as soon as the mammoth task of the GDPR has been mastered to some extent, the next regulation is already knocking on the door with the ePrivacy regulation. It seems that data protection is one of the buzzwords of the digital age. 

In specialist magazines and news portals, articles are circulating which title the current situation with terrifying descriptions such as "the data protection monster", "the GDPR panic", "the data crisis" or "the ePrivacy time bomb".

No wonder, then, that the population is not spared from the topic either and that the permanent excitement is making them more insecure about data processing than ever before. Studies by the software company "Marketo" even show that 75% of consumers are enormously worried when it comes to processing their data.

I'll be anonymous then

In order to avoid daily worries about the topic of data, many users make short work of it and surf the Internet encrypted or anonymously.

A trend that Standford professor and marketing expert Baba Shiv has long recognized. In an interview with the Startup Executive Academy at Silicon Castle, he reveals:

"What we are beginning to see in the last three to four years is a big trend where consumers no longer want to share their data. It's more about privacy. So we have many consumers who now go over the VPN route because they want to remain anonymous. For many companies and marketers, this becomes a challenge, as they can no longer rely on customer-specific data and can therefore no longer carry out micro-targeting."

But although users surf anonymously and handle their data sensitively, they want suitable offers and relevant content - on the whole, a tailor-made, individual customer experience is required that does not encroach on privacy. But how is that possible?

Maske-anonymer-UserPrivate mode: Many users nowadays surf anonymously on the net and still demand tailor-made shopping experiences! 

The thin line between privacy and individualization

No personal data = no individualization? This conclusion is obvious but represents the absolute worst-case scenario for online business.

Don't you worry! Despite regulations such as the GDPR and users who hide behind VPN encryption and equip themselves with adblockers, there is a solution with which shopping experiences can be made possible that are guaranteed to be oriented to the individual wishes and interests of users. That's why we need to rethink: 

Because many companies put too much effort into searching for individual consumer information that is not GDPR compliant anyway, or too much money into buying personal information from data merchants whose business model is endangered by the ePrivacy regulation anyway!

The solution is so simple: In addition to personal information, which can now be used to a very limited extent, companies also have access to other data sources that allow the user's interests to be deduced.

According to marketing expert Baba Shiv, companies know from their data exactly which device the current user is using or where they are located.

This is made possible by various, freely accessible information such as referrers (Facebook, Google, newsletter, etc.), devices (smartphone, desktop, etc.), operating systems (Windows, macOS, etc.), browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.), weekdays or times of day, which provide information about the current situation of the user and for technical reasons are automatically supplied with each access to the website.

The identity of the shop visitor is completely irrelevant, because the data is only processed as a set of abstract properties and is anonymous.

Future Visions and Insights by Stanford Professor Baba Shiv:


If these data are combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is possible to recognize certain patterns in the data sets in real time. By extracting the data, the consumer is provided with exactly the information he wants to see in view of his current shopping situation.

Baba Shiv describes this process in the interview as "situationalization".

A customer who surfs with his iPad on a Saturday evening will therefore be shown something different than on a Monday morning when he is on the move with his smartphone - without knowing his identity.

However, this process is not comparable to stiff algorithms that say, for example, "If Saturday morning happens, then xzy". In situationalization, the machine learns itself over a longer period of time, observes patterns, observes clusters of consumers in a particular situation, and supplements them with various pieces of information. This is the basis for the final playout of the content, which is tailored to the respective user.



In times of data protection regulations and anonymous users, an individual, data protection-compliant customer experience is increasingly becoming a rarity.

You should take this chance! By situationalization you unite privacy and individualization, respond to the needs and interests of your users and create a unique shopping experience that is guaranteed to set you apart from the competition.

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