Babar Khan Javed
Nov 23, 2017

GDPR: If you can afford a €20 million fine, don't read this

Taking effect seven months from now, the European Union's data-privacy regulation impacts any company with dealings in Europe.

The storm is coming and the smartest advertisers will prepare today to prepare for it.
The storm is coming and the smartest advertisers will prepare today to prepare for it.

Advertisers and agencies based in Asia-Pacific with business dealings in the European Union have seven more months to comply with The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Those who don't risk hefty fines: as high as €20 million or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is higher. This means that marketers who have relied on the spray and pray strategy of database acquisition and unsolicited targeting need to evolve their approach before the directive goes into effect on May 25, 2018.

Here's a rundown of what GDPR is, the implications for marketers, and why it's actually a blessing in disguise.


In an attempt to return control of personal data back to citizens, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission proposed GDPR. Its implementation follows a two-year transition period that started when the regulation was adopted on April 27, 2016.

For their part, advertisers and agencies will face dramatic changes to their digital campaigns, with a particular focus on data collection, retargeting and content marketing. As a communications channel, email marketing will be affected in at least three critical ways.

1. Non-automated personalization

Under GDPR, advertisers and agencies will be unable to procure a database filled with potential leads, nor will they be able to send unsolicited email newsletters. Impersonal automating email marketing may soon become a thing of the past as marketers will need to attain implicit consent from their target audience. For example, an email address acquired for a free webinar cannot be added to another email list unless the recipient explicitly allowed that to be the case. The permission cannot be hidden in terms of service and has to be in full view of website visitors.

2. Generic retargeting

Under GDPR, advertisers and agencies cannot retarget ads or messages that hint at intimate intent knowledge. Reiterating the above, unless explicit “yes, you may remind me about this for the next 30 days” consent is provided, marketers cannot retarget their banners at a site visitor via pixel tracking or cookies.

3. Dataset deletion

Simply put, under GDPR, advertisers and agencies will be required to permanently remove the profiled dataset from their system if consent for retargeting and marketing has not been provided.

The silver lining: Advertisers and agencies that are able to obtain willful consent from their target audience will stand out in several ways.

First, their campaign messages and newsletters will experience greater open rates and click rates, having been the explicit desirable outcome of the target segment.

Second, there will be more room for personalization in marketing when data collection is no longer about metadata, but about names and identifiable attributes.

Third, with consent provided, lead qualification is immediately efficacious and the intent to purchase is bound to be higher when the members of the target segment have willfully opened themselves up to messages, deals and offers. The current proof of this is the higher conversion rates on intent-based search.

Being GDPR-compliant will force modern-day advertisers and agencies in Asia-Pacific to adopt segmentation based on prospects that have opted in and specified data-use preferences. All factors remaining constant, this change would result in improvements in conversion rates and the decrease in bounce rates for digital campaigns.

One outcome likely outcome is that net promoter scores and sentiment will increase for advertisers when they become GDPR compliant, as the relationship between the buyer and seller is enforced under a directive that creates mutual trust.

For more on GDPR, see Campaign UK's coverage


Campaign Asia

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