The proposed revisions to the data protection law currently being discussed by the EU have the potential to impact not only on the performance industry, but across all aspects of digital marketing.
The initial proposals were published by the European Commission in January 2012 in light of technological advancements since 1995 when the law came into force in Europe.
So what does increasing legislation around data protection and privacy mean for the performance marketing industry? The Drum caught up with a cross-section of agencies and networks to discuss.
Matt Brown, sales director, Affiliate Traction UK
Innovation is required here. The channel cannot continue to rely on cookie tracking for accurate sales reporting and we need to look at other options. Some of us provide technology that allows tracking of click-less actions, and cookie-less transactions, while adhering to data protection laws. Equally, there’s the ability to work with networks who support footprint tracking, which means we can pay affiliates commission where, despite cookies being disabled, retailers still enable consumers to complete transactions.
Matt Swan, client strategist, Affiliate Window
With the cementing of informed consent and a relatively passive approach to affiliate cookies we have less to fear than re-targeters, but the real threat to us all, regardless of activity, is the proposed revision to data protection law currently being discussed by the EU. We need to make sure that we’re not caught napping like we were with the e-Privacy Directive. This is much wider than performance, which is why digital coalitions are being formed, of which we comprise a small part. Collectively we need to ensure that the dynamism of the UK online landscape isn’t consumed by onerous and ill-conceived legislation. The planning has already started and it’s up to all of us to stay informed.
Dorothea von Wichert-Nick, CEO, affilinet
We see the increased focus on privacy as an opportunity to take performance marketing to the next level. Increasing legislation has forced all players in the market to become more transparent, to focus on providing real value and it has actively encouraged them to be more proactive with their privacy policies. As performance marketing specialists, our role is to moderate the situation and to provide guidance to help ensure all parties are compliant.
Chris Bishop, founder and CEO, 7thingsmedia
We will always fight for the integrity of the marketplace and act as ambassadors and educators of best practice throughout its evolution. We strongly feel that correct and well-guided legislation can only have a positive effect on the industry as a whole.
In the past we have seen exaggerations from some individuals within the industry on the effect of new legislation but ultimately we all want the internet to be a place free of conning, counterfeit merchandise, phishing, credit card and data theft.
Alex Cornford, director of sales and client development, Rakuten LinkShare
Whilst there has been lots of talk around data protection and privacy, the effects have been overstated as few consumers actually opt out. Shoppers realise that to access free content they may have to give a few personal details, and many understand the value of choosing some preferences when signing up to these services. It’s only when shoppers are targeted with content they do not see as interesting or valuable that problems arise. Consumers value being targeted with relevant ads and content. Our role as a network has been to educate our advertisers on cookies and consumers now understand how anonymous they are.
Dan Cohen, regional director, Tradedoubler
We welcome legislation that ultimately helps consumers build their trust in brands and e-commerce. Tradedoubler has the largest compliance team in Europe of any affiliate network and is continually auditing its affiliates to ensure compliance with respected standards. However, as highlighted recently by WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, eradicating all use of customer information would diminish innovation and undermine this sector which the IAB has shown is generating at least 0.6 per cent of UK’s GDP.