Why GDPR is Good for Digital Advertising

June 26, 2018

A broad legislative mandate called the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, came into effect May 25th. The deadline had many digital advertising players scrambling and many more worried. GDPR will exact a toll and it will bring about change, but it’s change digital marketers should welcome, not fear. Here’s why:

End Of Pixel/Cookie-Based Model Is Good For The Industry

The reality is that this was long overdue. Companies have been dragging their feet, and it’s no surprise that the E.U. is leading the charge on this front. This is the beginning of the end for the pixel/cookie-based model. The era of data stealing and data scraping is over. GDPR will prompt data-driven advertising to be more opt-in and permission-based, and will render widespread tactics like retargeting and remarketing less invasive and obtrusive. These changes will usher in the next era of digital advertising: people-based marketing, or that which utilizes first-party data instead of third-party data/ad-serving.

Bad Industry Practices Will Dwindle

Companies relying heavily on behavioral and probabilistic targeting models will be impacted most. That’s not to say that these practices will disappear altogether, especially since they’re legal in most countries outside of the E.U., but the digital landscape will evolve toward first-party data and contextual advertising. You’ll start to see other countries implement similar sets of regulations. Even companies operating in countries that do not technically fall under GDPR will understand the reality of the global marketplace and will react to the direction the wind is blowing.

Long Overdue Data Cleanses

This is good for advertising and marketing in general. GDPR has already prompted some companies in the U.K. to perform data cleanses, for example, paring down their email lists by as much as two-thirds. Some of these companies are seeing higher open and click-through rates because the data they now possess is better quality. This is anecdotal, sure, but it’s logical to project that if how data is collected is above-board and if consumers willingly and knowingly opt in, you’re going to see higher rates of engagement.

Good For OTT

OTT stands for over-the-top, the term used for the delivery of film and TV content via the internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay-TV service.

Due to its very nature, OTT is pretty insulated from the GDPR impact. If you’re not opted in, you’re not targeted, unless, for example, you’re being blind-targeted on YouTube. Overall, though, OTT is well-suited for this evolving digital landscape.

Good for Publishers

It may be difficult in the short term, but it’ll be good for publishers in the long term, not unlike what we’re starting to see with companies managing their email databases. These forced data cleanses may be initially jarring, as mentioned above, but GDPR-compliant companies are also seeing more engaged subscribers.

Similarly, publishers will see more engaged consumers of their content with more stringent opt-in protocols in place. The reality is that publishers were lackadaisical with signups and opt-in for a long time. The opt-in nature of the GDPR guidelines is good for publishers, because they need their own first-party data to be impactful.


GDPR is compelling the industry to think hard about how it approaches attribution, which has been glossed over for some time now. It’s going to be harder to spam consumers, and it will force the industry to deliver personalized content that consumers want. The new guidelines demand consumer participation. That may be harder to achieve, but the results will be higher quality.

Read the full article here.