GDPR: How are we interpreting the new data regulation?

GDPR: How are we interpreting the new data regulation?

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is looming over many heads as the deadline for compliance in May fast approaches. It presents businesses with the largest adjustment to data protection laws since the Data Protection Act 1998. What challenges do businesses face in being ready for this move?

The Drum spoke to industry experts from Verve, Oath Ad Platforms, Clear Channel UK and Summit Media on how they are getting ready for GDPR.

How are you preparing for GDPR?

Seen as an apocalyptic moment for our industry, a sense of nervousness seems to have gripped us. But an impending legislation means it has triggered a sort of a mass movement towards making sure GDPR compliance is ready for May. Verve, for example, has started introducing policy changes to the way it governs access to, and use of data, through its platform, with committed cross-functional resources and investment in its European data centre infrastructure.

Oath says it has been working towards compliance for over two years. Simon Halstead, head of open demand EMEA and Alex Timbs, head of data and attribution added: “GDPR is a significant business undertaking and requires us to work through many areas of compliance and adherence. We see the impact as being wider than simply business in Europe and are assessing all global products via a GDPR lens, and implementing all necessary technical, contractual and operational solutions.”

Out of home media owner, Clear Channel’s GDPR preparations started a year ago and they are continuing to train staff for the changes. Summit echoes the same. It has been working on GDPR since 2017, and has since appointed a data controller and is working with consultants.

GDPR Positives

It is not just the advertising industry, of course, that GDPR will tighten the screws on but on anyone that handles data. Verve chief marketing officer Julie Bernard, says GDPR will help increase trustworthiness around the use of consumer data with Verve being able to add value and differentiate its offerings to protect consumers rights.

Brand safety will also improve and additionally decrease fraud by requiring data processors to disclose all partners with whom they work, she explains. “This will encourage better user experiences and stronger relationships between the brand and consumer. GDPR will inspire companies to innovate and increase their added value to consumers and brands.”

GDPR will reduce some of the disconnects about how personal data is handled across Europe, according to Clear Channel's commercial innovation director, Cadi Jones. She says: “By reducing legacy data, which we no longer need, it is helping streamline our business. Issues of trust and transparency continue to be of huge concern for brands, so this legislation gives us an opportunity to demonstrate how Clear Channel are responsible business partners and employers, and that OOH is a media channel which can be trusted."

Trust and transparency will be the two big themes this year, and if it takes GDPR to regain consumer trust it can only be a good thing. Halstead believes GDPR will lead to a better consumer experience when using internet services if consumers consent to use of data for advertising purposes.

Kristina Kalpokaite, head of paid media at Summit Media adds: “For advertisers, if your objective is to provide a relevant message to your customers and you care about how you engage with your audiences, this gives you a chance to reassure them.”

The challenges ahead

However, for many the details of implementation remain far from clear. For instance, there is an uncertainty around consent disclosures and how it will affect user experience and opt-in, according to Bernard. Verve, she says, is waiting for the publication of the IAB EU policy standards in February.

Meanwhile, it also comes down to having a good understanding of what technology and what type of data is used, as well as what data is subjected to GDPR. Kalpokaite says: “Where there’s been a question around regulation interpretation, our approach is to work with the relevant legal teams on these queries to ensure we have absolute clarity, and compliance."

Others need to understand the requirements for handling customer data and ensure they are acting appropriately in how they collect, process and share data that is covered through the legislation. Halstead explains that through (Oath’s) direct relationship with consumers via brands, the company sees the opportunity to educate consumers around the benefits of data use for ads and content through its owned and operated sites, products and applications.

For Clear Channel the big challenge is also how to apply the GDPR changes on a global scale, because all global businesses will need to be thinking about handling users’ data in the right way. As it stands, different countries interpret data protection obligations differently. Jones says it needs to anticipate which of those different approaches will survive the GDPR and affect international business-wide approach.

Halstead, Jones and Kalpokaite are all judges across The Drum Digital Trading Awards and Search Awards. Bernard is the chief marketing officer of Verve, sponsors of The Drum Marketing on Mobile Awards (MOMA).

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