Have No Fear, GDPR is Not the End of Shopper Marketing

Internet privacy has been a concern for consumers since the early 1990s when the web splashed in to the mainstream. As technology continues to advance, concern over the wide sharing of personal data continues to grow as well. To address this in the EU, GDPR was enacted to help protect individuals’ privacy and give them more control over how much of their personal information is shared and when.

We can all agree that putting stricter laws in place to protect personal information is good for everyone and, ultimately, good for business. In fact, the regulation of data acquisition is only going to get us closer to that mythical 1:1 relationship with customers. But the enforcement of GDPR is already having a huge ripple effect on retailers–there is no shortage of coverage on how retailers have been forced to rethinking their marketing and advertising strategies.

This is especially concerning when it comes to shopper marketing tactics, which are frequently a sales driver for brands as the strategy often targets customers when they are most willing to spend. The reason that it’s so impactful is because of data–brand marketers know which customers are likely about to spend, but with GDPR, data sources might start to run dry OR consumers won’t consent to receiving the relevant content. How will GDPR impact shopper marketing strategies moving forward?

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review detailed how GDPR will now force marketers to “hand over most of their dependence on personal data collection”; they’ll have to come up with new strategies in order to target audiences with relevant advertising. But how can do they do that when, according to CNBC, two in five Americans have been completely ignoring the privacy update emails that have been flooding all of our inboxes. If marketers need to ask permission to continue sending non-customers emails, does no response mean no more ads?

The short answer is this: we likely aren’t facing a shortage of ads, but brands will need to be creative and consider how they collect and use data. The first step is that data collection must be transparently disclosed and brands should clearly tell consumers that the information may be shared.” As I’ve argued with Facebook previously, I don’t think consumers are going to be willing to pay money to opt-out. It’s often inconvenient for users to avoid the data exchange and email isn’t always the best channel to reach consumers. Instead, we at Blis believe that the best channel to engage consumers with is mobile– where U.S. consumers spend over 5 hours a day according to Flurry.

Since this regulation was put into place a little over a month ago, only time will tell the approach in which digital marketers will decide to take in order to reach their audience. It will also take some time to see how consumers react and if they decide to pay to not have their information exposed or simply ignore all notifications regarding this issue. However, I think it would be premature to for shopper marketers to panic. They need to simply ensure that consumers are consenting and that data is stored within the limits of the regulation.

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