This regulation is often represented as being very restrictive for the advertising industry, when in reality it is not particularly so. It is simply an extension of the measures that were already in effect in France, meaning that it will go further to clean the market up. By increasing users’ control over their data at the very times when it is likely to be used to target them with advertising, the RGPD will nurture a direct relationship between sites and their visitors, bringing about a renaissance for 1st party data, which will be very positive for the entire ecosystem!
The term “1st party” refers to data that is captured directly by the site where the collection takes place. It allows a publisher to adapt a visitor’s experience to his or her preferences (language, features, form filling, etc.), and to limit advertising exposure (through capping), while helping the publisher to finely and in detail sort the audience into different profiles. This audience segmentation then allows advertisers to expose web users to campaigns that make sense to them because they reflect their preferences, their characteristics, and their searches.
Unlike with 1st party data, the supply of data described as being 3rd party – data collected and aggregated by third parties – is likely to be affected by the introduction of the GDPR, in particular by decreasing in volume. Purchased, resold, and aggregated by providers who collect it from all across the internet according to where web users do their browsing, this data is beyond the control of the users, who may not wish for it be shared any further. Although it’s true that 3rd party data has until now lent extra weight to campaigns, it very often lacked relevance, and did not always provide advertisers with convincing feedback.
This type of targeting often takes the blame for people’s antipathy to online advertising, as does the work of retargeters. Fed up of receiving dated messages that no longer bear any relation to their interests and online searches, users have begun to block their identity from being displayed, putting in jeopardy the funding that enables content to be distributed on the Internet for free. The RGPD will put an end to these practices, or at least greatly limit them. Now, at every step, at every change of “hands”, intermediaries will be required to obtain users’ consent to exploit their data. This will probably not be easy for them, and is by no means guaranteed!
If publishers have a specific and appropriate audience, it is the quality of the content they produce that allows them to attract it. Nothing is more legitimate than for the publisher – and the publisher alone – to be the one to organise the collection and use of data from its readers, with their prior consent, and readers will be more willing to allow this in return for free access to content, thus fulfilling their side of the reading contract. Conscious of the fact that this is a win-win situation, they will feel reassured that they know to whom they are giving consent to use their data and for what purpose.
The logic of this process is exactly the same as that observed with e-mail a few years ago: after a phase in which abuses of all kinds were committed by unscrupulous advertisers and publishers, a new legal framework and sanctions led to a considerable improvement in practices. Today, users have better control over the content they receive via e-mail, and they subscribe to it all the more willingly.
In the digital environment, value comes from individuals and audiences much more than the context alone or where the advertising is placed. Brands today try to talk to people, to meet their expectations and to create awareness by taking into account what makes them unique. This is digital’s hallmark.
The value of data is such that the inventory becomes a means to acquire it, more than an end in itself. And that’s why publishers are finding that they are the winners: offering data in the volume and level of relevance that advertisers covet, they will maximise their profit when the data is to be used in targeted campaigns, both within their sites and, through audience extension, elsewhere on the web.
In the RGPD era, audience extension will be a more legitimate and efficient way for publishers to fund their business and expose their users to much more relevant messages. It is an equally strategic solution for publishers who have a specific captive audience but little in the way of inventory to offer to advertisers. Everyone’s a winner, which stakeholders like Amazon or Seloger.com have already understood very well.
This beneficial quality of a significant reduction of intermediaries in the relationship between the reader, the publisher and the advertiser, could eventually give rise to experimentation with users receiving remuneration for the use of their own data. Even if we are not there yet, the development of the use of blockchains makes this at least conceivable in the years to come.
* Anthony Spinasse is C.O.O. of Gamned!
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