How the GDPR updates will impact the advertising landscape

Something you pick up on quickly in the media world is that there are a LOT of acronyms thrown around every day. CTR, CPM, ROAS, the list goes on. One acronym you may be hearing come up a lot lately is GDPR. And before you fire up that Google search, I’m here to shoot straight with you on what you need to know, and most importantly, how it will impact your clients.

By definition, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of citizens for transactions and activity that occurs on any website. It protects basic personal information like name and address, as well as location, IP address, and cookie data, among many, many other things. And while it is technically a European Union regulation at this point, all major publishers (including those that rhyme with Schmacebook, for example) will be expected to roll out these updates globally.

Starting May 25, the GDPR will mandate that all users know, understand, and consent to the personal data collected about them from these company websites. And teeny tiny fine print that can only be accessed 20 breadcrumbs into the website ain’t cutting it anymore. Instead, companies will need to be very clear and concise about how and WHY they are collecting this information about their visitors.

But what’s truly mind boggling? Consumers will eventually get access to the data these companies store about them. They’ll be able to correct inaccurate information and limit decisions made by algorithms to prevent companies from targeting them based on this info.

We know it’s more vital than ever for companies to not only be transparent with what they know about us, but to also protect that information (looking at you, Zuck). This is the chance for consumers to intelligently opt-in to certain websites based on the information companies are collecting, instead of being burdened with having to constantly opt-out.

Now that we’re all on the same page about what the GDPR is and why it’s important, let’s talk about how this will affect your clients, shall we? As of May (which is, ahem, upon us) advertisers’ websites will need to explicitly contain language in their Privacy Policy that outlines what type of information they collect about their visitors and why. Companies that do not comply may face a hefty fine (ain’t nobody got time (and money) for that). As for the demand side, the platforms we media professionals buy data from for our campaigns can potentially be fined for gross negligence if they do not ensure that every source of data they buy and sell is audited in order to comply with the GDPR. What does this mean for us? There is a possibility that our campaigns and strategies will be impacted because of this shift in what data is available for us to utilize.

The good news is that if you’ve read this far (hey, thanks!), you can get ahead of this May 25th deadline. For clients you plan and buy media for, some media partners may be proactive in providing you this GDPR information and may even give you a boilerplate template you can pass along to your clients so they can update their privacy policy. But others may not. So take it upon yourself to look like the superstar you are by sharing this info with your clients and encouraging them to update their website sooner than later. As for the demand side platforms we use, cozy up with your rep to understand exactly how this significant shift will impact your campaigns. Then you can optimize accordingly and set expectations with internal and external stakeholders.

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