Five Charts: Yes, the GDPR Is Shaking Up Digital Marketing

Data regulation is making marketers anxious

Since it became enforceable on May 25, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has become a legal headache for marketers, led some publishers to turn off open exchanges and even caused several vendors to pivot their business models. Here are a few charts that show how the GDPR—which states that a user’s data can be used only if that individual gives a company explicit permission—is shaking up the digital marketing industry.

The GDPR is making private marketplaces (PMPs) more attractive to marketers. In a May 2018 survey of 300 US marketers conducted by Advertiser Perceptions and Trusted Media Brands, 55% of respondents agreed that recent data protection issues like the GDPR make them more inclined to move ad dollars from open exchanges to programmatic-guaranteed and PMP deals.

Now that websites are required to be more stringent about how they use people’s data, publishers are purging ad trackers. Since the GDPR became enforceable, the number of third-party cookies found on news websites in Europe declined by 22%, according to a study by Reuters Institute.

The anxiety that the GDPR provokes among business executives can be seen in the fact that the data regulation is getting mentioned more on earnings calls.

CB Insights analyzed more than 6,000 earnings call transcripts from companies across the globe and found that the number of times GDPR was mentioned during the calls increased from seven in Q1 2017 to 177 in Q1 2018.

Companies found to be in violation of the GDPR face a fine of €20 million ($22.1 million) or 4% of global revenues (whichever is greater). Many marketers worry that they risk getting fined if they work with vendors who aren’t compliant with the GDPR.

In a June 2018 survey of 255 marketers worldwide conducted by Demandbase and Demand Metric, just one-fifth of respondents were not concerned about their tech vendors putting them at risk of violating the GDPR. About six in 10 respondents were slightly or somewhat concerned about their vendors exposing them to legal risks. Just 9% were extremely concerned.

Although the GDPR is getting more people to pay attention to how their data is used, most folks have not seen any change in their experience with brands since the law went live. In an August 2018 survey of 1,155 UK consumers conducted by Marketing Week and Toluna, two-thirds of respondents said that the GDPR has had no impact on their experience with brands. About half of the respondents surveyed were unsure if the companies that utilize their personal data were breaching the GDPR.