Beginning a series of posts, we sketch out four opportunities that the GDPR might open for publishers by allowing them to leverage their first-party data and the direct relationship with their users.
With the onset of the GDPR (and later, ePrivacy) first-party data collected and used in a compliant way will become the most valuable asset in the ecosystem. This is a unique opportunity for publishers, who are well positioned to garner that data and to cultivate a relationship of trust with the users who provide it. From the publishers’ point of view, the GDPR might allow them to regain leverage in an industry where adtech companies, who have no direct relationship with the users, had long had the upper hand. According to John Ryan, Head of Ecosystem at Pagefair:
“Over the last years publishers have found themselves getting less and less of every single advertising dollar and the people who get more are the adtech companies. The new regulations means that they would ask publishers for the opportunity to collect that consent. And that puts publishers back in the driving seat.”
But this is an opportunity fraught with risks. Since, under the GDPR, all the parties on the supply chain are liable for breaches of data privacy, publishers, as data controllers, have to impose extra scrutiny on all the data processors they work with and, as a result, regain control of a supply chain which has so far siphoned off most of their ad revenue and destroyed data exclusivity. Add the necessity of setting up watertight contracts and annual audits, and the whole supply chain will also probably shrink.
However, even for publishers consent is likely to be hard to elicit from a disillusioned public that is cynical about the advertising industry and that is inclined to opt in only for specific benefits. Traditionally publishers have bundled up their collected first-party data and monetized it by selling to advertisers through the adtech supply chain. The current efforts by publishers to gain user consent to cookies through logins and unified IDs can be seen as an attempt to prolong this old business model into the new era. Here German publishers are leading the way, some of them forming ‘teams of rivals’ to round up users with a unified, persistent ID. It might succeed, it might not, but in the process it would create more walled gardens.
Teavaro has identified four scenarios that benefit publishers, incorporating these into our solution to transform GDPR into an opportunity for publishers. While upcoming blog posts (and our website) will provide more details, here is a brief summary of the options:
Benefitting from Legitimate Interest:
Publishers may appeal to the notion of ‘legitimate interest’ to process users’ first-party data after conducting an assessment that balances their interest against the rights and freedom of the data subjects. On this basis first-party data might be used for internal marketing and performance management purposes as long as the opt-out option is guaranteed and clearly presented to the users. Publishers could balance providing the user with the right to object to the use of their data under the fold of legitimate interest with the transparent explanation of what the advantage to the user of such trade-off would be, (for instance some premium features, less ads, but more relevant, etc.). A more detailed understanding of what practice ‘legitimate interest’ could justify awaits clarification from the European Commission.
Connecting to First-Party Identification:
Publishers could use their media to build a first-party ID Graph and obtain the user’s consent to link to an advertiser’s own ID Graph. The publisher can help to keep the connected ID graph “active” through the cookie set under the most regularly visited sites / domains. This synergy between the two ID Graphs would be transparent, operating with permissions of all parties, and would make it possible to identify an audience for a campaign without the use of third-party cookies, which are now increasingly blocked by browsers.
Leveraging the Direct Relationship:
Activating Advertiser Data:
Based on the scenario 2, publishers could also enable advertisers to use their own data in real-time through an API integration (via Teavaro’s DataAction) or batch and obtain a campaign-specific user ID (Universal Marketing Campaign ID, UMCID) for frequency capping and sequencing. In this way, the two data sets would be combined for specific campaigns and remain obfuscated for any party who would not have the key.
These are some of the ways in which publishers could creatively team up with marketing middleware companies like Teavaro to leverage first-party data to target at a more granular level, in a more personalised way, and remaining compliant with the new legislation.