The announcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has stolen the headlines in recent weeks and rendered publishers into a full-blown panic, but the main question that's been circling is, should we really be this worried? Firstly in order to grasp what the commotion is amongst publishers, we have to initially understand: what GDPR is, how it affects publishers first hand, and is it actually a large problem?
Like me, you may be reading this introduction with some scepticism, but if I told you that the potential fine for not complying with these regulations is €20 million [nearly $22 million] or 4 % of global revenue, then I’m sure you will sit up and take notice.
What is GDPR?
In a nutshell, they’re a set of regulations that have been passed by the European Union that affect how publishers collect data online. Companies will need to ask for explicit consumer consent to collect and use data across the web and app ecosystem.
Initially, the main issues that publishers will face from these new regulations will be relatively short term. This is because everybody has to start from scratch, and get up to speed and make sure that they fit within the parameters. They’ll have to invest in new technologies, and while this may look to be expensive, in the long run, it could prove to be very fruitful.
Jim Edwards, editor-in-chief of Business Insider UK, stated that “I suspect in the long run, it will be good for publishers because at first glance, it looks like it will remove a lot of data or make it harder for you to keep data, but the data you do keep and get consent for, will be far higher quality. The supply of people willing to tolerate advertising or give over their data is going down, and when that happens, prices go up, making the remaining data more valuable”.
What happens with Brexit and living in the U.S?
Whether you live in the United States or Great Britain, you will not be exempt from these rules. GDPR will affect any company that has audiences and readers in Europe, so British companies; unfortunately Brexit will not be your free get out of jail card.
Does this justify our concerns?
Honestly, no. The way to look at things is as follows; users will still want to access content online, regardless of these new regulations. Companies will still be able to collect data about their customers, but will just have to make sure they comply with the new regulations.
This then brings us onto cookies. The future looks bleak for cookies. The personalisation strategy that many companies use to tailor specific ads and offers to users will have to be totally revamped. As a publisher with a subscription strategy, it means doing their best to increase free subscriptions, in order to collect your data. Publishers that are compliant with GDPR won’t have any issues with that, however companies that simply preload publisher’s sites with cookies to gather data have a problem on their hands.
How will GDPR affect me, the consumer?
Whilst I’ve touched on how GDPR will affect companies what about the consumer?
Consumers as a whole distrust digital advertising so much that they go out of their way to implement Adblocking technology. Consumers hate the thought of being tracked on their mobiles and on the web, 92% of consumers actually said that they don't want their browsing data sold or shared without permission. With GDPR, companies will only be able to obtain data with explicit consent from the consumer. However if I’m being brutally honest, if you want access to content being provided online, you’re going to have to hand over your details anyway. But at least you’ll know when, where, and who is tracking your data. To summarise things, granted there’s been a lot of panic and noise about GDPR, and yes the potential fines are hefty. But if companies and publishers take the time now to get themselves ready for it, then they shouldn’t feel too worried. From a consumer’s view, Single-Sign- On will probably seem a bit more frequent when trying to access content, apart from that, it’s business as usual.