Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rowly Bourne:What good could look like under the GDPR

Rowly Bourne the founder of Rezonence, is NDA’s latest monthly columnist.

In my last article, I spoke about the unwanted similarities between data and oil, and the damage both were having on their respective environments.  More importantly, I touched on the impact that brands were beginning to have on tackling the environmental crises; not waiting for legislation but making positive, proactive changes to their businesses. 

My point was, if brands and technology providers take the same initiative with data, we can create a sustainable media environment. I was amazed by the response to the article, and how many of you reached out to ask what we could and should be doing.

There are, of course, plenty of things brands can be – and already are – doing to get ahead of the legislation and let’s not forget the browsers as well.

Research has shown that as a society we tend to focus on the negatives, and our industry – myself included – is no exception to this rule.  While we are busy focussing on the bad, we’re missing all the good already being done; so I wanted to take this opportunity to shine a light on some of the people taking the initiative and making positive changes to the way they are handling consumer data.

When push comes to shove, it all comes down to transparency; the spirit of the GDPR is essentially that.  There’s nothing wrong with collecting consumers’ data, but they need to know who, what, when, where and why that data is being collected – that way, they can make an informed decision on whether they are happy with that or not. 

  • Hashtag’d is a user content platform ensuring brands that want to feature consumers’ tweets in their ads are compliant.  It requests permission from consumers directly on the social network where they posted their content and records full audit trails so brands are only using content they have permission to use.  As Adam Stamper, Hashtag’d’s CEO points out:

“If you don’t have explicit permission to use a piece of content – even if it’s just a short tweet – you could be seen as infringing on that person’s intellectual property as well as potentially falling foul of GDPR legislation around consent.” 

  • LeadFamly is a self-service gamification platform that allows brands to build interactive content for their clients; to engage, educate and gain deeper consumer data insights.   As Neil Robinson, the UK Sales Director highlights:  

Vero Moda are a great example of what can be done, using games built through Lead Family to ask consumers about themselves and their lifestyles – building a detailed picture of each individual in a transparent and compliant manner.”

  • SoPost helps brands run product sampling campaigns through any online channel. As part of the experience, consumers explicitly opt-in with their personal data in return for a free product sample. Jonny Grubin, SoPost’s Founder & CEO notes:

“Transparency, and a fair value exchange, is at the heart of everything we do. Consumers are happy to share data when it’s in a relevant environment, and where they get something of value back, and we’re helping our brand partners gather valuable data in a responsible and non-creepy way.”

  • InfoSum, through its platform, is able to access multiple first-party data sources – allowing companies to securely analyse and activate their data, without ever having to move any of the raw data between parties. As Richard Foster, CRO at InfoSum says:

“By removing the reliance on third-party cookies, we provide the advertising industry with a first-party solution that will optimise the way we target consumers and means there is no need to compromise on commercial trust, data privacy or data security to unlock the value of first and second-party data.” 

Now I wouldn’t be the salesman I am if I didn’t mention my company – Rezonence – but rather than bore you with the sales pitch and in keeping with the rest of the article, I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a mention to the brands that have already started collecting their consumer data transparently with us. 

So here’s to BT, to Sky, to Unilever, to Nestlé, to NFL, to Heinz and to Vodafone – all of whom having been explicitly asking consumers if they can collect their data for advertising purposes.  

Getting back to crux of the article; if you’re looking to take a lead in data, the key is to think about why the GDPR exists in the first place – what is it fundamentally trying to achieve? 

Personal data is exactly that, personal; it’s a consumers’ property and we shouldn’t be using it unless they give us – the advertiser – their permission to do so. Before your next campaign, targeting 25-34 year old single females with no children (or whatever your target might be) ask yourself, has the consumer given me their permission to use this data?  

If the answer is ‘no’, or even ‘I don’t know’, then this is where you must start – and any of the companies mentioned here will help ensure the answer is ‘yes’.