What GDPR Means for Publishers and Advertisers


Many publishers and advertisers fear that May 25, 2018 may be doomsday for many data-centric ad strategies.1 With the European Union’s passing of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), consumer data can no longer be collected without user consent.2

Failure to comply to these new regulations will involve hefty fines, and could impact relationships with consumers.3

Publishers and advertisers are unclear on what obtaining consent means, how it will impact preexisting advertising strategies, and even change future partnerships.4

Here’s what GDPR means for publishers and advertisers.

What is GDPR?
According to the International Advertising Bureau (IAB), if a user is an EU citizen, GDPR requires a business to gain consent before collecting personal data online.5

Per the IAB, “all companies handling data of EU citizens must adhere to these new data privacy and security measures.” This means any business, regardless of location, must comply to these regulations if the data of a EU citizen is involved.6/sup>

Failure to comply will result in a fine of 4 percent of the company’s annual income, or 20 million Euros, depending on which value is higher.7

Publishers need to ensure their advertising partners are GDPR-compliant by respecting their consumers’ consent to sharing their data, as they are also vulnerable to fines. “Under GDPR, publishers will share liability if a vendor uses data without the correct level of consent,” says Digiday editor Jessica Davies.8

How Consent Can Be Acquired
With user consent now required in order to collect personal data, publishers and advertisers will now have to work closely to ensure they obtain explicit user opt-in.9

For adtech players with strategies that heavily involve user data, obtaining consumer consent will not be easy. According to The Drum editor Jessica Goodfellow, “The players who act on first party data (advertisers, agencies, DMPs) are usually the ones furthest down the adtech chain … the further away a company is from the consumer, the harder it is to get consent.”10

Because publishers have the first level of interaction with consumers, advertisers should be working to help publishers gain consumer consent. “Adtech players can help publishers communicate the value of advertising to consumers, and the value exchange between free content and data consent, in order to secure their future on the site,” Goodfellow adds.11

If consumers understand what their data is being used for, they may be more likely to consent, or opt-in to sharing their data to third party adtech vendors.

“Being able to provide contextually relevant content and communications is going to be key in helping the customer understand why it is they should select ‘opt-in’ in the first place,” says Kurt Kratchman, chief operating officer of Grapeshot, a context marketing engine.12

GDPR Could Shift Ad Spending
Adtech players fear that putting this decision into consumers’ hands will reduce the quality and quantity of data collected. In turn, this limits data-driven programmatic advertising strategies, and thus, marketers are likely to spend less on programmatic ads.13
Learn 3 new programmatic-free strategies publishers are using to deliver profit while keeping their sites user-friendly & welcoming.

“If users have to give consent to individual publishers, demand-side platforms, and attribution vendors, the attribution companies won’t likely have enough data to make accurate measurements, which will lead ad buyers to shift their dollars to other marketing tactics,” says Digiday platforms reporter Ross Benes.14

Previously, data-centric ad strategies used tracking cookies to measure conversion rates, however this may change as GDPR no longer allows for the unrestricted use of cookies or devices to track user clicks.15

Eric Berry, CEO of native ad platform TripleLift, echos Benes. “GDPR could lead to a reduction in programmatic ad spend because ad buyers will struggle to measure whether their ads lead to purchases,”16 he said.

GDPR Will Cause Relationship Reevaluation
Ultimately, being GDPR-compliant will require publishers to reevaluate their partnerships, and require advertisers to review their data collection and usage policies. In the potential situation where a user’s data is collected without consent under GDPR, all parties involved are at risk for penalty.17

Allison Schiff, a senior editor at AdExchanger, explains how this could impact relationships. “Because GDPR assigns responsibility for compliance to every member of the supply chain, publishers shouldn’t risk their first-party audience relationships due to a sloppy data partner or ad tech vendor.”18

To further minimize the risk, publishers are also seeking future advertising partners that have GDPR compliant strategies.

“GDPR compliance is becoming one of the main criteria publishers are using to select the third-party providers they work with,” says Matthew Smith, managing director of IDG Connect, a multinational digital media company that owns and operates technology-focused publications such as PCWorld, Computerworld and Macworld.19

Publishers purchasing data will also have to carefully ensure that third-party providers selling data are in line with new regulations. “In the data space, third-party providers will have to prove the data they are selling is GDPR-compliant,” added Smith.20

With GDPR fast approaching, one thing is clear: Publishers and advertisers alike are being forced to reevaluate their personal data practices.

Content Personalization

1. Goodfellow, Jessica. “How Adtech Players Are Approaching Consent in GDPR and Whether They Will Be Compliant in Time.” The Drum, 2 Nov. 2017.
2. “Home Page of EU GDPR.” EU GDPR Portal.
3. Goodfellow, Jessica. “How Adtech Players Are Approaching Consent in GDPR and Whether They Will Be Compliant in Time.” The Drum, 2 Nov. 2017.
5. “Understanding the EU GDPR.” IAB – Empowering the Marketing and Media Industries to Thrive in the Digital Economy.
8. Davies, Jessica. “In 2018, GDPR Will Cause Chaos for Publishers, Marketers.” Digiday, 10 Jan. 2018.
9. The Digiday Guide to GDPR. Digiday.
10. Goodfellow, Jessica. “How Adtech Players Are Approaching Consent in GDPR and Whether They Will Be Compliant in Time.” The Drum, 2 Nov. 2017.
11. IBID
12. IBID
13. Davies, Jessica. “In 2018, GDPR Will Cause Chaos for Publishers, Marketers.” Digiday, 10 Jan. 2018.
14. IBID
15. Graves, Rupert. “GDPR Will Trigger a Massive Transformation of Programmatic Advertising.” LinkedIn, 20 June 2017.
16. IBID
17. Schiff, Allison. “A Publisher’s Guide To GDPR.” AdExchanger, 4 Jan. 2018.
18. IBID
19. IBID
20. IBID