GDPR set to be a force for good in advertising

27 Apr 2017  |  Ellen Hammett 
GDPR set to be a force for good in advertising

Laurence Green, founding partner, 101, and Wickes' Matthew Gaunt

In just over a year's time, the media industry will begin to feel the effects of one of the biggest disruptions to privacy regulation in two decades.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), set to come into effect in May 2018, will completely change how brands, agencies and adtech businesses are allowed to use consumers' personal data and track online behaviour, causing havoc with the data-driven marketing techniques many businesses currently employ.

But not everybody thinks adland will be worse off once the rules come into place - including Laurence Green, founding partner of 101, who says more controls on data will help to end the "Wild West" era of data-driven marketing.

"I personally think [GDPR] is helpful," Green said during Mediatel's 'Are Algorithms Killing the Planning Stars?' event this week.

"For decades we took for granted that advertisers, media owners and audiences have a collective interest in the advertising system we've built...everyone was broadly happy; it was well-controlled and well-policed; advertising was enjoyed, rather than intrusive; media owners knew how to place ads sympathetically.

"But in the last 10 years that ecosystem has been completely destroyed. All I'm staring at is our industry becoming a bit of a Wild West, so whatever the impulse for those changes I think is helpful."

Green, who has won gold and silver IPA Effectiveness Awards, said less data - or more controls on data - can only help adland get back to a "steady state where people all drink from the well that feeds us".

Wickes' head of brand and communications, Matthew Gaunt, is also optimistic about GDPR, as it should force brands to re-evaluate their relationships with consumers.

"I think it embraces the absence of principles of transparency," Gaunt said. "If you believe in a positive value exchange and you believe that your brand is doing a good thing for customers, then why would you be scared of it?

"We are trying to push the boundaries of data like everybody else and it will provide some interesting questions about how we do that and is it right, but for me it's a positive thing."

Earlier this year, PageFair's Dr Johnny Ryan warned that GDPR sets the stage for a "wave of lawsuits against all parties in the advertising chain".

"Users will have the right to trace data back to its source," he said. "For example, a person who receives a marketing communication from a brand is now entitled to find out where the data on them has been obtained from, and can take legal action or complain to a regulator."

Ryan added that many brands and adtech companies will find this difficult - "perhaps impossible" - to comply with because they lack direct relationships with users.

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