GDPR’s cloud looms over Google, but L’Oréal and Domino's are starting to see the silver lining

Brands like L’Oreal and Domino’s are already benefiting from data culls

Just over month after its implementation, Google might still be “struggling” to make sense of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but brands like L’Oreal and Domino’s are already benefiting from data culls that have helped them target ads towards consumers who actually want to see them.

L'Oréal's chief digital offer Lubomira Rochet told The Drum that the cosmetics giant, which spends about €7.5bn on advertising per-year, had in seen “50% of names disappear” from its database in France – but, she caveated, it has been “a good clean up” and part a wider shift in the group’s data culture.

“We welcome it, because if your relationship with people isn’t based on consent it’s detrimental to your [brand’s] image,” said Rochet.

“The whole industry had gone too far in terms of using people’s data and we believe that trust is the new currency, so it’s really important we base our relationship with consumers on trust and consent.”

The marketer didn’t go into specifics about whether the smaller, but more engaged pool of eyeballs, had led to an improvement in click-through rates or conversions (L'Oréal’s e-commerce revenues amounted to €2.1bn last year). However, one marketer that is positive brands should be seeing better metrics post-GDPR is Domino’s.

UK chief marketing officer Tony Holdway said that, like L’Oreal, the pizza delivery company experienced a cull of consumers in the months leading up to 25 May, but it has come out the other side in a better place.

“GDPR is the start of making sure we do the right thing and should encourage brands to build a better database of active customers, not legacy ones that ordered five years ago," he said.

“Everybody is going to [lose] a huge percentage here, but those are the rules and [your brand] is then left with a very active data base that you can build upon.”

Domino’s, he said, had been streamlining its opt out process for customers who hadn’t transacted with the brand in a while, by the same token though it’s also been making it easier for pizza lovers to opt in to get more offers via its app or text.

"I know the numbers might be small now but they will grow, it's difficult to see the downsides of having a better quality database," he said.

"Every brand should be seeing better metrics because the percentage of active customers should be greater; so the percentage of open rates and click though and conversion from that should be higher.

'Deep sea trawling for data over'

Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) is seeing a similar trend among members.

The trade body launched its Data Transparency Manifesto earlier this month, getting the likes of Disney, Unilever, Mars, Pernod Ricard and Shell to commit to going one step beyond GDPR and actively reduce the amount of data they use.

While Loerke is clear it's still "early days" for the EU law, he said its implementation has had a "very significant impact" on the amount of data available to marketers, especially third-party data.

"We’re tracking this very closely. It makes the situation more complicated, but it certainly forces chief marketing officers and their companies to look at the data they sit on," he added.

"Until now, we've been living in an age of plenty, so companies would go what we'd call 'deep sea trawling' then sit on data without knowing why they collected it in the first place, as well as the quality of that data and who had that data in which department.

"So GDPR has actually led to them re-egineering their policies to understand which part of the company is collecting data and for which purpose, and [scrutinise] the of central management of that data."

But it's 'a bumpy road' for Google

While the step-change in data culture within brands' walls already looks to be yielding fruit, Google is still grappling with how it can actually help marketers measure the success of these changes using third-party data.

Despite being touted as one of the early winners of GDPR along with Facebook because of its wealth of first-party data, the tech giant has spent the past few months under pressure from publishers over DoubleClick issues.

Now, it's caught between compliance, and working with external firms to offer clients more sophisticated measurement via third parties.

Answering a question put to him by The Drum last week, Google’s EMEA boss Matt Brittin said suggested working through this was a post-GDPR priority but stressed the journey would be a "bumpy road".

Brittin claimed this was because “a lot of the detail” around GDPR “came through very late,” from both regulators and trade bodies, leaving the industry feeling "rushed" to define what GDPR meant for their businesses and “deal with it”.

Noting that the IAB Europe’s recommendations were published little over a month prior to GDPR, he said Google was currently working hard with the trade body to see “ensure they deliver for everyone”.

“Our intention is that third-party measurement is [offered] in the way that advertisers want, but we won’t do that if it’s going to compromise user privacy and security.”

For now, he said Google was “just starting” to roll this out with an initial raft of partners it could verify complied with GDPR standards, promising more of the same for brands but conceding that with 27 countries involved and a multitude of different protection authorities also in the mix it was “quite tricky to implement”.

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