Many marketers have looked at GDPR and dismissed it as a uniquely European thing, the product of a regulatory culture that reflexively overreaches and overreacts. Nothing like that will ever impact North America, with it’s pro-business DNA and light touch regulatory philosophy.
While this was never a safe attitude to take, it became downright reckless after headlines like this started to appear:
The reality is, GDPR (the acronym for General Data Protection Regulation) is now in effect, as of May 25, and any brand or martech company doing business in Europe is already subject to its strict rules on data privacy as well as its draconian penalties for non-compliance.
It’s also true that multiple violations of consumer privacy on this side of the Atlantic, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal being just the most recent and prominent, have made the imposition of some data protection regime here almost inevitable. Even if it is less strident than GDPR, it would still disrupt how marketers collect data on the performance of digital advertising and content.
So what does this all mean for marketers?
First of all it profoundly impacts how you collect your tracking data. If all of the reasons we’ve offered to date for why third-party cookies are all but dead haven’t been persuasive, then the advent of the GDPR era may finally convince you.
In addition, GDPR may become a model for countries outside the EU that wish to impose a strict data privacy regime. There is also much speculation that GDPR will suppress innovation, as app developers may be disincentivized to release new products for fear of burdensome compliance requirements. These are interesting questions that remain unanswered for now, but need to be at least raised and discussed.
A Viant survey conducted last year found that most brand-side markets do see the writing on the wall. They survey found that more than 60% of brand-side markets expected to phase out their reliance on cookies within the next two years, citing changes like GDPR and Apple’s decision last year to block third-party cookies on its Safari browser.
Our reading (please do not take any GDPR compliance action based solely on our views. Consult a qualified attorney) is that cookies are a large part of the problem that brands face as they attempt to collect data in the permission-based, consumer-centric post GDPR world. To quote the regulations:
“Personal data is defined as any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person. This includes online identifiers, such as IP addresses and cookies if they are capable of being linked back to the data subject. This also includes indirect information, which might include physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identities that can be traced back to a specific individual.”
“…any freely-given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of his or her wishes by which the data subject, either by statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to personal data relating to them being processed”.
Most important, Metricsflow, unlike cookies, delivers a clear history of the previously anonymous visitors content consumption across multiple platforms. Accurate ROI analysis is now possible.
It’s important to recognize that if you have a GDPR problem, cookies are a big contributor to that problem. Using an AI-based methodology like Metricsflow is an easy way to get the data that you need, be on the right side of GDPR (or whatever comes in its wake) and make progress on your evolution toward implementing, precise, learning capabilities required for the future.