Commentary

How GDPR Could Benefit Publishers: Educate With Opt-In

The European Union’s ruling on GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is finally set to come into force next May. While many are mindful about the potential pitfalls surrounding the new legislation, enterprising publishers should seize the fantastic opportunities it presents.

Much of the narrative around GDPR to date has been focused on its punitive aspects. Fines for misuse will reportedly be in the range of 20 million euros or 4% of global revenue annual turnover for the previous year, whichever is the greater of the two.

For the vast majority of unprepared publishers, that’s serious. And yes, these rules will apply to anyone looking to do business in Europe, whether they’re based on the Continent, the U.S. or elsewhere.

Taking a wider view, the chance exists to make GDPR work to the benefit of publishers in a number of areas. While these rule changes are designed squarely with consumers’ interests in mind, there’s plenty to be hopeful about.

Educate Through The Opt-In

For the vast majority of consumers, the inner workings of advertising on the mobile web and apps are of an unknown quantity. While technology has made identifying and targeting relevant groups ever more accurate, public education around how data is both collected and used still lags behind these advances.

A report last year from Edelman and The University of Cambridge found that 71% of users believe brands with access to their personal date likely used it unethically.  

The cynical might be inclined to laud those respondents for their insight, but building consumer trust around an industry not known for its transparency should be taken seriously. The new rules ushered in by GDPR around explicit opt-in consent present an opportunity to address some of these concerns.

Those publishers able to lucidly explain how their collected data will be used have a chance to steal a march on their rivals. Provided these explanations are sensible and easy to understand for those outside of the industry, greater loyalty between a user and the publisher can be fostered.

Stunt The Growth Of Ad Blockers

A byproduct of being more upfront with end users — and giving them the opportunity to opt-in or out of targeted ads — is the chance to put the brakes on the rapid proliferation of ad-blockers. Last year, HubSpot’s investigation in the use of ad-blocking software found that a combined 84% of users either agreed or strongly agreed that intrusive ads left them with a poor opinion of the sites and brands that used them.

However, the same study found that 77% also wished there was a way to ad-filter instead of ad-block completely.

Depending on your level of optimism, the latter statistic is either a crying shame or positive news for publishers. Ad-blocking software does not discriminate; it’s either all on or all off. Whatever progressive feelings users might have about only filtering out the irrelevant ads are lost if they choose to flip on that blocker switch.

But what if the data collected through these newly opted-in standards could deliver more of what they like, and far less of what might be considered intrusive?

The only feasible way to incentivize users to take off blinkers is to serve relevant ads. GDPR and the associated communication that will accompany its incorporation is the perfect opportunity to address some of these ingrained concerns. 

Better Ads Make For Happier Users And Successful Campaigns

The best messaging to correctly targeted user groups is the only way to achieve metrics that stand out. Going into 2018 and beyond, that means using data that’s been collected ethically, and with the explicit consent of your users.

And when combining this data with the most sophisticated targeting on the market, there is a chance to truly move the needle on the idea of adverts becoming more like personalized recommendations and less like annoyances to be endured.

As onerous as complying with GDPR may appear on a surface level, publishers would do well to recognize the chance to make good on this idea. Explicitly asking users for access to their data is only going to be a net benefit if they can see the step change in the quality of ads shown.

In that sense, this is not only an opportunity for publishers but also a responsibility to finally change consumer perceptions towards advertising.

The best tools on the market today can make this a reality, observing real-time user activity across the mobile web and app usage and collecting first-party proprietary data across the entire mobile user journey. Make your ads as interesting as your content, and you’ve got a serious proposition for your readers.

 

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