Advertising Guest Columns
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GDPR one year on: The rising importance of first-party data

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Earlier this month, Google announced they would allow Chrome browser users to block third-party cookies in a privacy-motivated attempt to grant control back to consumers. In the short term, this could mean trouble for the publishing and advertising ecosystem, who have traditionally relied heavily on the duopoly for data. But in a post-GDPR world, strategic moves like this only further point to the growing importance of first-party data.

Since the European-wide data protection and privacy regulation came into effect last May, users are more aware than ever about their privacy and want to know how their data is being used. Seeking to provide consumers with more transparency and control over their data in a world that is becoming ever more connected and digitised, GDPR has also provided the opportunity for advertisers and publishers to find new ways to collect, store, and utilise data.

However, it would be false to claim that enforcing GDPR has come without challenges. The industry has had to spend millions on updating systems and processes to become GDPR-compliant. A necessary cost, of course. But it’s also one that alienates a lot of the smaller players who may not have the resources available.

And while privacy may be front-of-mind for users, many are still unclear about how GDPR impacts them. A recent consumer survey by OnePulse found 1 in 5 felt GDPR was an anti-climax, which is arguably true when the first year has been about exposing the ‘bad eggs’ and reprimanding them accordingly.

We still have a way to go in terms of educating consumers, so they understand their rights in a post-GDPR world. Part of it is empowering them to differentiate between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experience online; i.e. what publishers and advertisers are and are not allowed to ask of you, target at you, etc. An obvious start would be to give more detail about how personal data is being used, rather than the bare minimum ‘click here to allow us to talk to you’ pop-ups.

One thing that can be universally agreed on, though, is that this regulation has created more business opportunities than it has diminished. GDPR has benefited first-party data owners and raised questions about the value of undifferentiated third-party data. Publishers can now be empowered by this consensual data to make themselves more enticing partners for advertisers, to then deliver better experiences to audiences. It’s a win-win-win.

Better, more transparent partnerships

GDPR has enabled a more mutually beneficial partnership between publishers and advertisers, with a new focus on not just what data is being collected, but how it is being collected and how it’s being used to benefit the end user. The aim is to eventually reach complete transparency in the supply chain, and for everyone, including consumers, to understand how data is being used.

For publishers, a world where first party data is prioritised is an ideal one. And living in a post-GDPR world means publishers can utilise the hugely valuable data they already have and take power back into their own hands to deliver great experiences for their audiences and, by extension, advertisers. Compared to the Duopoly, where first party data is combined with other sources to create audiences, a publisher’s approach eliminates the concern that data is being passed on to other businesses and being used within the walled gardens to benefit competitors. There are comprehensive platforms in the market that offer to manage and store this data, but the emphasis is on data being collected by the publisher themselves with the consent of their audience.

GDPR has ultimately provided an opportunity for all players to become better at utilising their data, and not just leaning back and taking the next best offer from the duopoly because of convenience and scale. When publishers are empowered using their own data, this has a positive ripple effect onto those also in the ecosystem; the advertisers, and the users.

Delivering personalised experiences

Viewing GDPR not as an obstacle that needs overcoming but as an opportunity has been key to succeeding in a world with this regulation. It should act as an incentive to further improve and enhance the way we are transforming raw data into a publisher or advertiser’s most valuable resource; actionable insights.

The future of personalisation must be built on a strong foundation of consumer trust. And GDPR has forced publishers and advertisers to prioritise this trust.

The demand for better personalised experiences from users has no doubt increased since privacy and data collection practices were brought to the forefront over the past year. And this demand will continue to increase as it becomes more apparent personalisation offers significantly more value to consumers than a one-size-fits-all approach. At a time when consumers are exposed to an ever-increasing amount of content, they are compelled to turn to offerings that are tailored to their individual preferences. And data should always (and inherently needs to) be used to inform this process.

GDPR was a timely and appropriate measure to strengthen consumer rights with regards to privacy in a world that is becoming more digitalized. It puts them in the driving seat and gives them control over what happens to their personal information. The changes resulting from the regulation have already been positive, and will continue to be, for the industry as a whole because of its ability to bring about greater transparency, consumer control, and ultimately more trust by consumers in personalized services.

David Gosen, Chief Commercial Officer, Cxense

About Cxense: Using audience data and advanced real-time analytics, Cxense creates hyper-relevant content recommendations (including video) and personalized user experiences that help publishers increase digital revenue and build a sustainable digital business model.