Amidst the fear, the GDPR is an opportunity for the ad industry – here’s why

It’s understandable that the GDPR is the hottest topic for most businesses at the moment

After all, given the global nature of the internet, there aren’t many businesses on the planet that won’t need to consider the implications of Europe’s new data and privacy legislation.

Months of planning, researching, auditing and reviewing data policies is now at fever pitch as we pass the much-anticipated GDPR enforcement date. Yet there is plenty of uncertainty around what it will mean for marketers, how it will be interpreted by regulators and how consumers will react as well.

Scaremongering spans a range of topics. Most notably are the financial penalties (4% of annual turnover or 20 million euros), as well as industry voices hinting at the total removal of targeted ads or the death of programmatic. And yet despite these concerns, it’s evident that many businesses have failed to prepare adequately for the new regulation. According to one survey, only 46% had put in a structured business plan to ensure compliance with the new regulation.

The fears and threats to our industry might be the reason so few businesses are making adequate preparations for the GDPR. But amongst the worry, there are opportunities that will come from the new laws when they come into effect on May 25, that will benefit consumers, ad tech partners and publishers.

2018: the year of control and transparency

The new regulation gives all the above parties transparency and control over what’s happening on websites and apps where people access free information and services that are usually supported by advertising.

For our industry, the demand is growing daily for more transparency and clarity over where ads are being placed and why. Cisco’s recent decision to pull ads from YouTube goes a long way to demonstrating the mistrust in the market. What the GDPR delivers is an effective way to understand how data is used to deliver ads that support free content. With this understanding and transparency comes more control over what data can be provided or exchanged for free content.

For the consumer, the GDPR represents a real opportunity for our industry to re-establish trust and a chance to educate the public about the important role technology plays in their everyday lives.

Building trust between the marketer and the customer

The GDPR provides an opportunity for marketers and brands to be more open with their customers about how they use their data and which other organisations they might share it with. The regulation enables a greater understanding of the reasons for collecting and using data and means brands must now inform users why they need to do so. In many cases, the reason is to provide better, more personalised content, a superior experience or to deliver specific, personalised deals or services. But it’s also about the technology partners brands work with. Now they must provide details of the relationships they have with others and how those organisations might use the data collected, as well as being transparent about passing it on. All of which is a positive step for building trust between company and consumer.

Looking on the bright side

Despite the worry and lack of preparation from many organisations, the GDPR also represents opportunity. And as we move into an era regulated by the GDPR,  brands and publishers must now focus on the benefits – the silver lining they can glean from what is going to happen next. The GDPR will allow marketers to operate more efficiently and more quickly, as they’ll be dealing with ‘cleaner’, more accurate data and engaging with those consumers who actually want to hear from them. After all, what value is a database of one million if only a quarter of those contacts have any affinity with a brand? This regulation will be a cornerstone of the industry’s move to advocating for more openness and transparency as well as building better, more authentic relationships with customers. This can only be a good thing for the businesses operating within it and the consumers who want to continue enjoying or sharing great content.

About the Author

Ari Levenfeld is Chief Privacy Officer at Sizmek. Sizmek is the largest independent buy-side advertising platform that creates impressions that inspire. In the digital world, creating impressions that inspire is vital to building meaningful, long-lasting relationships with your customers.  Sizmek provides powerful, integrated solutions that enable data, creative, and media to work together for optimal campaign performance across the entire customer journey. Our AI-driven decisioning engine can identify robust insights within data across the five key dimensions of predictive marketing—campaigns, consumers, context, creative, and cost