GDPR: why content marketers should look on the bright side

Ask most publishers about GDPR and you’ll be met with a torrent of doom and gloom. But the chance for a fresh start is not to be sniffed at

If you haven’t read Content Desk’s handy primer on GDPR, the new European directive for May 2018 that everyone’s talking about, now is the time to do so. Any publisher with online traffic going to/coming from the EU will be affected.

Clandestine data swapping between companies is out. Explicit consent is the new order of the day. From selling ads to your company’s weekly newsletter, if it involves data sharing then it comes under GDPR’s purview.

Reactions have been mixed. Some are worried – will GDPR mean an influx of bureaucracy? Do restrictions on data sharing mean restrictions on revenues? Others have responded with nonplussed bafflement – a fifth of businesses in the UK have “no idea” whether or not it applies to them.

For those out of the loop, it’s fair to say GDPR will come as a bit of a shock. But for those who are prepared, it’s an opportunity to clean up their act.

A clean slate

Press Gazette points out that up to 90% revenues are being sucked out of the traditional advertiser-publisher-consumer relationship by middlemen – retargeters, ad servers, social agencies and the like. Layers of complexity have been added to a once-simple process.

Much of the time this complexity adds nothing to value or customer experience. In the last few weeks alone, the growing phenomenon of domain spoofing has demonstrated the ease with which malevolence can spring up from the unregulated digital backstreets. Unsuspecting advertisers are being duped into buying low quality ad space.

However, it’s not that simple. The middlemen decried by Press Gazette can supply important expertise and reach out to customised audiences at scale. But where issues do emerge from unscrupulous actors, they can often be traced back to shady data flows across the internet.

In this context, GDPR could put the ball firmly in content marketers’ courts.

An opportunity

First, the worst offenders, getting by with vague and ultimately misleading data, could be swept away by the changes. Domain spoofers and the like can deploy underhand tactics to whip up profits in an essentially unregulated environment, but new requirements on transparency and the ‘right to be forgotten’ will strangle their previously limitless wiggle room. In the long run, this should clarify and strengthen the link between publishers and their audiences.

GDPR should also be seen as an opportunity for content marketers to get their houses in order. Audiences will be hewn down to their purest form – those who have opted in to receive your content – cutting out bots, crawlers and other anonymous traffic sources. For B2B content marketers, this leaves a rich pool of potential prospects to chase up.

But most importantly, GDPR is a chance to put content front and centre. Data anarchy has allowed programmatic advertisers, retargeters and other go-betweens to claim a monopoly on audience engagement up to now. The clamour has swept up many publishers with it. Now, with all firms collecting data affected by legislations, content is in the spotlight; it’s the most reliably authentic and engaging way to reach audiences.

Key takeaways

Be aware – get your data management in order so you aren’t caught out

Take action – use the opportunity to reconnect with your finely-honed audiences

Emphasise content – it’s the surest path to engagement in this turbulent regulatory environment; don’t let your clients forget it

Editor's pick

Most popular