The Storm Before the Calm?

If you are in the marketing, advertising or media business or a consumer of these businesses, the initial upshot from the implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the ungodly number of outlets sending you an email telling you how it is reacting to GDPR.

It basically boils down to a message where you’re told:
1. We’ve changed our policy to become GDPR compliant.
2. We are giving you the opportunity to read how we’ve done it.
3. We are still going to use your personal information to send you relevant content.
4. If you don’t think that’s cool, you can opt out or adjust what we send you.

Seems relatively easy, doesn’t it? But, unfortunately, you had to know it would be much more complicated. And it appears, at least early on, it has been. You are seeing the words “panic” and “mayhem” strewn across the news coverage of the new EU law.

What has been some of the fallout so far? You had news publishers from a major media holding group, Tronc, choosing to block readers instead of dealing with the law. Tronc shut down European access to their websites, which includes The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Arizona Daily Star. Users were informed on home pages that Tronc is “engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the E.U. market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions…” The Washington Post took things another way by offering up a new paywall; calling it a “premium” EU subscription which doesn’t have ads or tracking capabilities but costs 50-percent more. It will be enlightening to find out how this tact will fare with news consumers in Europe.

In Europe, there have been many public complaints, and some legal action being taken, against the tech giants for alleged forced consent, informing users via online or applications “pop ups” that that the service cannot longer be used if user does not provide consent.

But perhaps the most troubling aspect so far, it’s being reported that ad exchanges have seen a drop between 25 and 40 percent in European ad demand volumes. Ad tech vendors have already seen inventory supply slow and are predicting steep drops in demand through their platforms. European sites have also had some U.S. publishers halt all programmatic ads. Because of its size and dominating role it plays in programmatic advertising, some publisher frustration is being directed at Google. But, for its part, Google said it continues to work diligently to minimize disruption as it finalizes integration within the IAB framework and expects to be fully integrated by August “so that publishers can serve personalized ads based on consent passed by a user, per vendor, or serve non-personalized ads.” Google also said it is working with the exchanges for alternative options for consent outside the IAB.

Things will be restored to normalcy at some point. And, believe it or not, becoming GDPR compliant does represent an opportunity for publishers. High performing content management platforms (CMP), can easily help publishers garner more consent permissions. Once it’s mastered, the publishers will see increased ARPU due a rise of consented readership and as a result serving more targeted ads for their programmatic advertising. It goes without saying, if you haven’t started to be GDPR Complaint, you should start immediately. Because the next battle on this front will be ePrivacy legislation that specifically protects the confidentiality of electronic communications such as text messaging and video chat apps.

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