The ad tech industry is accustomed to change. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will, no doubt, have a global impact. Despite the understated value of the new U.K. data protection bill, ad tech is bracing itself ahead of the deadline to comply. Are we overreacting?
First off, What Is GDPR?
GDPR will hold companies that control and process personal data from European countries accountable for how they handle that data. The UK government’s new data protection legislation will go into effect starting May 2018.
How Did GDPR Come About?
When a consumer clicks “Accept” on an opt-in box to proceed to a website, they should understand how their personal data will be processed and handled by the business asking to use that information. This goes beyond how their data will be used for marketing or advertising to how their data will be shared between systems and who has access to the information. This, I feel, is a reasonable request.
But such is not the case with every company. Transparency is a problem. The jargon and legalese of opt-in forms are intentionally vague to confuse consumers about what user agreements they’ve accepted.
Consumers in the US, have long demanded the same rights and data protection. But with the large, dense clusters of European consumers, the voices of many became amplified, which made it easier to achieve legislation.
By the way, has anyone asked European consumers how they want to be asked for consent? Has anyone informed them that their online experience is about to dramatically change, at least in the short term, for the worse? I have yet to hear or read much on GDPR from the consumer perspective.
How Does GDPR Impact the US Companies?
Certainly, companies face more legal obligations under GDPR. Businesses need to take the necessary steps to protect privacy-related user information. And it will become harder for data management platforms to obtain third-party data.
But, while the threshold for consent has changed, it was always a necessity to a degree. GDPR is a long time coming and has been in the talks since 2016. The companies fretting over the new data protection policies are the ones that haven’t built a transparent, GDPR-compliant infrastructure. They’re under threat of losing revenue.
On the other hand, companies that have been regarding consent and transparency as the norm before the loom of GDPR will be the least affected by the regulation.
What’s the Upside of GDPR?
User experience under GDPR is a concern. Marketers fear digital advertising will regress to the days of untargeted and blanketed ads.
The best advertising puts first-party data first—it’s an underused yet powerful tool. Since third-party data will become harder to procure, the upside for smaller ad tech companies entering the space is the opportunity to create best practices around the use of first-party data.
Also Read: Are You GDPR Ready?