GDPR + the Future of Advertising
Each day, the digital transformation of everyday activities grows stronger and more vibrant. Whatever we need to buy, whatever we want to do, odds are there’s an app for that (or soon will be).
Of course, the more intimately these transformations intersect with our lives, the more likely they are to be funded by the digital currency commonly categorized as “ad revenue.” By necessity, digital publishers and content producers depend largely on economic valuations and revenue models to support development of anything worth consuming. Capitalism isn’t a free world. But it is a free market. And therein lies the delicate balance and perpetual tension between Consumer Adoption and Advertising Revenue.
Today’s consumers are upsetting this interactive equilibrium and informing the industry of their general dissatisfaction with the current state of advertising through ad blocking, adoption of ad-free services and aggressive opt-outs. Much of this frustration originates from their perception that most ad content is simply irrelevant and then further exacerbated by a lack of corporate transparency and consumer control.
At the same time, consumers are learning of data breaches by third parties that leverage personal information to deploy questionable campaigns, which only fosters greater mistrust of ever-evolving, data-centric marketing technologies.
Several weeks ago, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) officially took effect across the European Union, immediately impacting every organization that markets to consumers in any member country. And many in the global marketing community began to wring their hands.
But these GDPR guidelines do more than just set a new standard for consumer rights regarding their data. They also create a new opportunity for advertisers to form and develop more transparent, successful, reciprocal relationships with their best consumers.
Advances in digital technology, the advent of artificial intelligence and the application of machine learning have all empowered quantum leaps in advertising. But the fuel for most of this progress has undoubtedly been data. Data has become a “natural resource” for advertising technology and the digital transformation of our lives. And, just as with every other precious resource, we all bear responsibility for its consumption.
New industry regulations such as GDPR should not impede our progress as marketers. On the contrary, they help reset the balance between advertiser and audience by giving consumers more control, directing technology be employed for more noble uses, and compelling marketers to interact with consumers in more meaningful ways that create positive sentiment and, ultimately, restore trust.