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Ad-tech firms had it pretty good during the first two decades of the new millennium as the digital marketing world exploded with the advent of social media. Growth charts took on hockey-stick dimensions as the major platforms grew their audiences and ad-tech gathered swaths of data–very often without users’ knowledge or consent. That is, until GDPR was enacted in Europe in 2018, and California this year introduced CCPA–two sets of rules and regulations designed to protect consumers from data misuse. 

Marketers have generally feared the onset of these rules–in part because they will upend longtime business practices and inhibit easy access to data that guides their digital campaigns. But I’m very bullish on the fact that consumer data regulations are good for digital advertising. First and foremost, any ecosystem built on unsustainable foundations (in this case, consumer data taken and used without consent) has, by default, paved the way for its own demise. As consumers spend more time on the internet, brands that want to connect with them in a sustainable manner need to act in their best interests; privacy regulations provide the standard by which to do so. 

Regulations will require many brands to change–in terms of how they collect and use consumer data for advertising, and how they ensure that all their ad-tech partners are compliant. That second part will prove most difficult, considering just how much of the ecosystem is built on dubious data collection or data-use practices. 

But the benefits of regulation outweigh the drawbacks in three significant ways in what it ushers in, recently I wrote a post on Forbes “Why Regulations Will Be Good for The Digital Advertising Industry” discussing: 

  • Consumers demand and deserve more control and knowledge over how their data is used
  • Education and knowledge empowers them to agree to a value exchange with data gatherers
  • Trust built up most often results in data that’s trustworthy and reliable.

The time is now to clean up your act. It can only help.

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