How GDPR Offers an Opportunity to Rebuild Trust With Consumers

It's not a limitation on what brands can do

GDPR isn't something that will hold back brands—it will connect them more with consumers. Getty Images
Headshot of Michael Priem

With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now in effect across the EU, nearly $70 billion in programmatic advertising costs will be subject to fines and penalties. As one can imagine, this is quite literally causing concern and attention for our clients, especially big brands who depend on the ability to advertise and leverage data in these strategies without any sort of penalty.

As GDPR becomes law, it will immediately impact every organization that markets to consumers in any member country. But these new 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 relationships with consumers. As such, we have been telling clients that GDPR isn’t so much an opportunity for a freak out, but an opportunity to comply, and through compliance, to show consumers that they have nothing to fear. And let’s be honest, consumers trust is quite low after the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

Each day, the digital transformations of everyday activities grow stronger and more vibrant. 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. Herein lies the delicate balance between consumer adoption and advertising revenue.

Data has become a natural resource for advertising technology and the digital transformation of our lives.

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 the perception that most advertising content is simply not relevant, engaging or informative and is further exacerbated by a lack of transparency and consumer control and shorter consumer attention spans after being bombarded by media from all angles.

At the same time, consumers are hearing of data breaches by third parties that leverage personal information to deploy questionable campaigns, i.e. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica or Google, which only causes greater mistrust of ever-evolving, data-centric marketing technologies. Just imagine the horror of an everyday American left-leaning consumer when they learned that the clicks and likes they were providing Facebook with were then turned around and used to help elect Trump.

However, because of the advances in digital technology, the advent of artificial intelligence and the application of machine learning, quantum leaps in advertising and data collection have been made. 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.

As marketers, if we look at GDPR as an opportunity to rebuild consumer trust, these new industry regulations should not impede our progress. On the contrary: They reset the balance between advertiser and audience by giving consumers more control, directing technology to 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. After all, trust is what this entire game is about.

@Modern_Impact Michael Priem is founder and CEO of Modern Impact