The potential beneficiaries of GDPR

06 Feb 2018  |  David Brennan 
The potential beneficiaries of GDPR

Upcoming changes to privacy regulation are sure to upset many parts of the advertising industry - but for some it offers huge opportunities, writes David Brennan

Although I’ve attended many conferences and read through countless articles debating the issues around GDPR, I’ve not seen much evidence of its impending arrival in the real world.

Until last week.

I received a lengthy communication from the website of my favourite football team explaining that they needed my permission for using my data in a dozen or more different ways. I ticked most of the boxes (apart from the one about access to my data by third party partners) and went on my way.

It was a tedious experience, to be honest, and there aren’t many brands or service providers for whom I would go to the bother. So, let’s assume that most consumers don’t bother to give their permission for use of their data to all but a handful of trusted or valued providers; where does that leave us in our data-driven business?

It’s not just limited to the data collected in future, either. All currently stored consumer data is subject to the same regulations. It has been estimated that three quarters of all consumer data held by companies for marketing purposes is in breach of GDPR and should be considered unusable.

Some parts of the industry will be more adversely affected than others. The adtech business, for example, as a third party, will become more reliant on the publishers to gain the appropriate consent from their consumers. Big data specialists will have to recognise the increasing gaps in the coverage and depth of their data. Digital marketing will have to become more transparent and potentially less intrusive.

In fact, there is a growing body of opinion that believes GDPR will provide a welcome disruption to the advertising industry, leading to greater transparency, empowered publishers, more innovation and a more constructive and respectful relationship with consumers.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that there will be some winners from GDPR. Consumers, obviously, should be the main beneficiaries, but it should also benefit two sectors of the industry.

Premium brands will be able to build off their strong relationships with their customers to gain their consent to provide data and potentially provide a platform for third party access. This is one of the litmus tests for the levels of trust brands really can rely upon as they seek their agreement to provide data, and that trust can be broken in a matter of seconds, so there is a great deal at stake, but it could be a huge influence on which brands continue to be successful in the future.

Within the premium brands sector, there appears to be particular opportunities for premium publisher brands. Like my favourite football club, they provide valuable content and generally have a strong, opt-in relationship with many of their consumers already in place. The 12 million All4 registrations, the 10 million i-player sign ins and the petabytes of subscriber and viewing data owned by Sky spring to mind. GDPR should give them competitive advantage and commercial opportunities.

Of course, it’s all dependent on the relationship between consumer and brand – with trust at its heart. It’s a switch from a generally passive relationship towards achieving sign-in from users of a brand. For the owners of those brands, especially premium publisher brands, this introduces a CRM function into their planning and marketing strategy. In addition to targeting viewers, users, readers or listeners, they also need to learn how to keep them and foster a more active relationship.

That will require a totally different skillset, and a greater understanding of their consumers’ needs and influences will be key.

Which brings me on to my second nominee for GDPR opportunity.

Market Research and insight has taken a bit of a back seat to behavioural data analytics in recent years and has often been under-resourced and slightly peripheral to company decision-making as a result.

This should change.

On a simplified level, if companies have less access to consumer data - from day one of GDPR - how can they make up the shortfall in terms of coverage and depth of information? Market research can produce the right kind of data and insight can discover ways of optimising its integration with the remaining data lake. It can also reveal insights that will help sustain better CRM performance.

So far, I have found little obvious enthusiasm from the market research industry. A thorough Google search revealed lots of advice about being GDPR compliant (important!) but nothing on how the industry can help to fill the gaps through customised, sample-based research and clever modelling.

Instead of remaining peripheral to data analytics, market research suppliers and heads of insight departments should be exploring how they can become central to the data strategy process. It presents a huge opportunity.


David Brennan is co-founder, BE Insight

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