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How GDPR Will Transform Digital Marketing


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How GDPR Will Transform Digital Marketing

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GDPR will force marketers to relinquish much of their dependence on behavioral data collection. Most critically, it will directly implicate several business practices that are core to current digital ad targeting. What, then, will take the place of behavioral data collection to power ad-targeting?  How will digital marketers channel the right marketing messages to the right eyeballs at the right times? For many, the answer will lie in contextual advertising. Its power lies in displaying ads based not on a consumer’s profile, but on the content that he or she is looking at in real time – e.g., a news article, website, news feed, mobile app screen or video game.

This month will see the enforcement of a sweeping new set of regulations that could change the face of digital marketing: the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. To protect consumers’ privacy and give them greater control over how their data is collected and used, GDPR requires marketers to secure explicit permission for data-use activities within the EU. With new and substantial constraints on what had been largely unregulated data-collection practices, marketers will have to find ways to target digital ads, depending less (or not at all) on hoovering up quantities of behavioral data.

Consumers have already seen a range of developments resulting from the forthcoming enforcement of GDPR. Among these are the dozens of messages from web-based companies from TaskRabbit to Twitter about privacy policy updates, as well as the recent reports about how major internet companies like Facebook and LinkedIn are moving the personal data associated with non-Europeans out of Europe and into other jurisdictions – the latter of which are largely moves designed to minimize legal liability. But while digital marketers are aware of the strict new regulatory regime, seemingly few have taken active steps to address how it will impact their day-to-day operations.
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GDPR will force marketers to relinquish much of their dependence on behavioral data collection. Most critically, it will directly implicate several business practices that are core to current digital ad targeting. The stipulation that will perhaps cause most angst is the new formulation for collecting an individual’s consent to data gathering and processing; GDPR requires that consent be active (as opposed to passive) and represent a genuine and meaningful choice. Digital marketers know that users of internet-based services like Snapchat, Facebook, and Google technically provide consent by agreeing to these companies’ terms of service when they sign up. But does this constitute an active and genuine choice? Does it indicate that the user is willing to have her personal data harvested across the digital and physical worlds, on- and off-platform, and have that data used to create a behavioral profile for digital marketing purposes? Almost certifiably not.

Other components of GDPR that will make life more difficult and increase operational uncertainty for digital marketers include the ban on automated decision-making (e.g., applying algorithms to personal data to drive inferences and target ads) in the absence of the individual’s meaningful consent; the new rights afforded to individuals to access, rectify, and erase data about them held by corporations; the prohibition on processing of data pertaining to special protected categories as identified in the regulations; and the stipulation that data collectors must demonstrate compliance with the regulations as a general matter.

Atop all of these measures is the additional requirement that service providers like Facebook and Google make the data they hold on individuals portable. This will immediately further dis-incentivize personal data collection and implicate ad-targeting based on behavioral data; if a firm makes this data available for an individual who can then bring it to a competing service, then – barring the construction of some loophole around this measure – the incentive to collect the data in the first place weakens.

What, then, will take the place of behavioral data collection to power ad-targeting?  How will digital marketers from Dior to the NBA to political campaigns channel the right marketing messages to the right eyeballs at the right times?

For many, the answer will lie in contextual advertising. Its power lies in displaying ads based not on a consumer’s profile, but on the content that he or she is looking at in real time – e.g., a news article, website, news feed, mobile app screen or video game. For instance, if a New York Times reader is looking at a digital article about “Game of Thrones,” he might see a contextual ad placed by HBO reminding him when the new season will air. Similarly, when he’s scrolling down his news feed and pauses on a friend’s post about a new pair of basketball shoes, Facebook might alert marketers in real time and sell ad space alongside the post to the highest bidder – an ad position of high interest to companies like Nike or Reebok.

While contextual ad placement might appear difficult to execute, many advertisers already use it and we can expect the digital sector to move quickly to further support it. Leading weather forecasting firm AccuWeather, for example, makes expansive use of contextual advertising through various programs in partnership with internet platform companies among others. And though some internet companies currently lack contextual targeting options, many, like Quora, already make such options available to advertisers. We can expect such programs and practices to expand and proliferate as GDPR comes into effect. Sophisticated ad exchanges and other intermediaries are adept at rapidly understanding novel regulatory environments and developing compliant ad market infrastructures. These markets and the underlying routing of digital advertisements will likely become increasingly quick, automated, and seamless.

All this said, behavioral data collection – through web and email cookies, location beacons, internet-use monitoring, cross-device tracking and all the rest – isn’t going to disappear entirely, of course. These practices are largely allowed outside of Europe, and sophisticated actors – including internet companies like Facebook and Google as well as advertisers like Ford and LVMH – will doubtless seek ways to work around many of the constraints that will be imposed by GDPR within Europe. In addition, even within Europe such data collection will still be possible, but most likely with aggressively enforced transparency and consumer oversight.

The GDPR’s effectiveness won’t be known for some time after it goes into effect May 25. In theory, the result will be a more equitable digital advertising space for all players – including, perhaps most importantly, end consumers. If marketers and consumers mutually benefit from the improved transparency and trust as is expected, other jurisdictions outside the EU may well follow suit, which could spell even bigger changes for the digital ecosystem in the years to come.

6 Steps to a Successful Digital Marketing Plan

successful digital marketing plan

Health care spending has grown by 20% in the last year. Despite the rapid growth the industry is seeing, marketers must deal with challenges in implementing digital campaigns. New technology, data and privacy concerns, legislative and regulatory changes, and cost are just a few of the factors that marketers face when creating a digital marketing plan.

To help your organization thrive, implement the following steps in your digital marketing plan.

Know your Unique Value

This is key in any industry, but it is especially important in the crowded health care market. Determining your unique value will become the foundation of your marketing strategy.

Know your Audience

With so many players in the health care space, don’t waste your efforts on a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. What do you offer that provides the greatest resource to your target audience? You should always consider:

    Which persona you are addressing
    Pain points you are trying to solve
    Where your persona falls in the buying journey

Get Personal

Personalize content for each persona in the buying journey. Here are criteria you can use to create personalized content:

    Behavior:  Have your users been to your site before or is this the first time? Did they download a certain asset or go to a specific page?
    Context:  What device, time of day, day of the week did the persona engage?
    Demographics:  What city/state/country are they in? What is their gender? Age? Income level?

Map the buyer journey to find the right content for each persona in each stage. Personalization can cross multiple media and impact your digital campaign.

Create Multichannel, Multimedia Content

Content is the element that keeps buyers engaged. Provide related resources at every step of the buyer’s journey to guide your visitors through the process. Learn to repurpose your best content to present it in different ways, such as creating a webinar, white paper, blog post or infographic.

Make Sure People Can Find You

The health care space is particularly crowded so it is vital that your target audience can easily find your solution in the crowd.

    Do keyword research:  Make sure your website and online materials are search-optimized for the keywords your buyers will most likely use.
    Use long-tail keywords:  Weed out people searching under more generic terms.
    Develop landing pages or microsites for your keywords:  This will help you capture lead information.

Nurture Your Leads Throughout

When sales are complicated and the sales cycle long — especially in health care  — the ability to strategically provide customers and prospects with value throughout the sales process can keep them active and engaged.

Implementing a smart and strategic digital marketing campaign will give your company an edge so make sure you don’t miss out on the most valuable tips on creating a digital campaign. Download the full report to start filling your pipeline.

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