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Digital Marketing

GDPR Implications: Email & Marketing Automation

As the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) deadline approaches, we’re seeing two general trends: 1) Marketers are moving away from their reliance on third-party data and 2) Upcoming changes to European data privacy rules restricting the use of cookies, meaning that companies will face challenges in tracking prospective customers across the web. As GDPR is essentially a set of sweeping rules that govern the handling of European Union users’ data, no matter where they are located, there are GDPR implications for North American and Global Companies with European customers and universal global customer databases being used for ongoing marketing communications.

GDPR Data Elements – First Party Data

Every business uses some form of customer data, and it is usually first-party, meaning that the company has collected and stored the data itself. This first-party data is then typically used to manage ongoing communications with current customers. This is all well and good, but when companies want to find new customers, they must use third-party cookies to both target and then retarget prospective customers across multiple touch points or channels. The reason for this is that marketers typically wanted to buy categories of potential buyers based on attributes like socioeconomic status, age, income, role/function, persona, etc.
A second reason third-party data became important was for different ad systems to use the data to create customer/prospect models and relying on cookie sharing to build cookie pools of customers to target and market to. With the anonymous cookie pooling approach to data that we’ve seen in the marketplace, the future will be about further protecting consumer data and doing so in ways where marketers can be flexible. On this point, first-party data satisfies more GDPR requirements and will be one of the key reasons companies will reconsider the primary use of third-party data in their data management strategies.
We are now seeing a definite shift by brands and their omnichannel marketing models as they turn away from the use of third-party data as data privacy concerns by consumers rise. We expect this shift to continue as companies are forced to rethink their brand engagement strategies and marketing channel mix and begin to look for more direct engagement tools to reach their customers. This, in turn, will change how data management platform providers handle third-party data and shift their models to meet this trend. This will have a negative impact on smaller third-party ad networks and will further elevate the Facebook/Google data duopoly within the overall ad network ecosystem. Organic email opt-in and universal management of user preference center models will evolve. Additionally, email marketing tactics like email list acquisition and brokering or email appending services or non-organic email acquisition techniques will change.
It is our view that GDPR is already playing a critical role in how global brands think about and collect data about their customers and we fully expect this trend to continue as similar regulations are put in place in the US market in the coming years.

GDPR Data Elements – Third Party Data

All of this said, most experts agree that third-party data will remain in some form as a part of marketers’ future customer data strategies. The role played by third-party data, and the first scenario (data append) isn’t going anywhere. But now with GDPR, the recent Facebook data issues, and the general climate around customer data privacy, data ownership, and control, companies will be in search of alternatives to cookie sharing and the most likely solutions may be in enhanced consent policies and expanded use of first-party data as alternatives.

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Jarrett Tilton

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