With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) just around the corner, much of the conversation around the new legislation has focused on its potential pitfalls. While it’s certainly important to keep the hefty fines of either €20 million ($24.7 million/£17 million) or 4% of global revenue per violation in mind, it’s far from all doom and gloom – GDPR offers a number of potential positives that can greatly benefit both companies and consumers alike.
Educate with Opt-in
For the vast majority of consumers, the inner workings of data handling – let alone the regulations that surround it – remain an unknown quantity. And despite all the recent noise and slew of activity concerning GDPR and data privacy, public knowledge of both subjects is still lacking. A recent Kantar study from February 2018 showed that just 34% of those polled were aware of GDPR’s existence. Clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done.
In forcing companies to demystify their data policies, GDPR itself can help to bridge this gap. The new regulations demand clear, concise opt-in forms to be displayed to users before consenting to their data being collected and otherwise handled. These opt-in requests cannot be bundled away in the terms and conditions, as has been the norm for years.
Only when consumers get a real sense that their data is being used firstly with their consent, and secondly to at least some degree to their benefit, can we truly claim to have entered…
The Age of Transparency
Recent headlines covering several high profile data scandals have understandably raised suspicions about how companies collect and use their personal data. But this is nothing particularly new. A 2016 report from Edelman and The University of Cambridge revealed that 71% of users believed that brands were using their personal data unethically.
GDPR will give companies the chance to rectify this natural distrust by clarifying exactly what goes on with all of the data that they collect. In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, increased transparency should be viewed as a means to opening an honest dialogue with end users. Similarly, where user consent is now king, a clear and respectful attitude towards privacy will be key in easing the existing suspicion between consumers and the companies that they hand their data to.
The benefits don’t stop there. GDPR has the potential to improve individual brand reputations and to allow businesses to steal a march on their rivals. If companies can effectively communicate how they use data ethically there is potential to obtain new loyal customers, and take some away from competitors who may fall short of the mark.
A ‘Cure’ for Ad-Blockers
Another survey, this time conducted by Hubspot, found that 84% of those polled agreed that invasive ads left them with a poor impression of the brand in question, or site that they had visited. However, the same study revealed that 77% of users wished there was a way to ‘ad-filter’ as opposed to ad-block everything.
Depending on whether or not you count yourself as an optimist, the latter of these two statistics is either a crying shame or a great opportunity for marketers. The trouble with ad-blocking software is that (currently at least) it does not discriminate; it’s either all on or all off. Even if your users do have more progressive feelings towards only filtering out the annoying, irrelevant ads that they are forced to sit through, if they choose to flip on that blocker switch, it’s all for naught.
But what if the data collected through the new standards set by GDPR could deliver more of what they like, and far less of what might be considered ‘intrusive’? The only feasible way to get users to forget ad-blocking is to serve them relevant, targeted ads. It’s at that stage that ads become less like sales messages and more like personalized recommendations.
In this sense, GDPR is not only an opportunity for marketers but also a responsibility to finally change some deeply-entrenched negative consumer perceptions towards advertising.
The best tools on the market today can make this a reality, by observing real-time user activity across the mobile web and app usage, collecting first-party proprietary data across the entire mobile user journey. Make your ads as interesting and personalized as the content that they come to see and you’ve got a serious proposition for your consumers. More to the point, you’re no longer the ‘fly in the ointment’ when it comes to their online experiences, you’re adding true value to their user journey.