The future of programmatic advertising seems uncertain.

Since the inception of GDPR on 25 May this year, there’s been a slew of news sources warning brands of plummeting ad sales across European and international sites.

And as programmatic is now a key part of most online advertising strategies, it’s crucial for brands to know how to put it into practice the right way, and get the desired results.

Will GDPR be the death of programmatic?

If your business has any form of digital advertising strategy, you can be sure it was impacted by GDPR.

A 2018 report by London Research and TRUTH revealed 79% of its advertising industry respondents worried about the level of transparency in programmatic, and the implications it had for post-GDPR advertising.

Many market leaders are also alluding to the death of programmatic, taking the stance that creating an entirely opted-in subscriber base is too big a challenge.

Speaking of his fears for the future of programmatic, Johnny Ryan, Head of Ecosystem at PageFair, says, “Consent is the only possible basis [for targeted digital advertising], but it’s unworkable.”

And if consent is impossible, so is programmatic.

With this in mind, the question appears to be whether or not there’s a place for this form of advertising in the post-GDPR era at all.

We believe there is, and in fact, GDPR presents more opportunities than challenges to take programmatic to the next level.

Steps to take to revive your programmatic strategy

1. Make consent your priority.

Now that GDPR is in action, consent is indeed crucial and needs to be at the forefront of every marketer’s mind.

Arguably the biggest takeaway from the regulations is the need to have your consumers opt into everything from website cookies to marketing emails. And from our point of view, this is a good thing.

According to our research, 3 in 4 UK consumers think the GDPR is a welcome change, proving that boasting your status as fully compliant can only improve your brand health.

Any consumer who has willingly opted into a service offered by your brand is bound to be receptive to it.

It’s then up to you to make the most of the opportunity.

Make it work: Opted-in information is important across the board. Everything from your marketing materials to your consumer research should be fully and visibly optional, making your brand as transparent and consumer-centric as possible.

2. Focus on ad quality.

As competition for programmatic ads is bound to become stiff as standards of quality increase, brands must put more time and effort into their advertising to ensure it stands out.

But the quality of your advertising depends on the quality of your data.

Using a reliable, fully opted-in source of consumer research, you can uncover exactly what your consumers expect from brands, and how and where they’re open to advertising, meeting their expectations and making an impact.

Make it work: Optimize your ad strategy by revisiting everything from pure creative to placement.

You need to engage, rather than annoy, and be a seamless part of the user experience, rather than a disruption. You can do this by dipping into research straight from the consumers themselves.

3. Use reliable data from a single source.

Ultimately, the quality and reliability of your consumer insight depends on how the research is conducted, and the data collected.

Every data provider and research body in existence has a different methodology – a major cause for concern (and headache) among marketing and research professionals trying to make it match.

Using a single source of consumer data eliminates the risk of discrepancies in methodology.

And being able to trust the GDPR compliance status of these traditional data providers is now one of the most crucial aspects of using the data.

Make it work: Conducting a global survey that’s fully opt-in, GlobalWebIndex leverages a panel of 22 million consumers (the largest in the world), to give marketers a true representation of their target audience.

Rely on a fully compliant, single source of consumer data like this for your research, and make it easier to join the dots and paint a harmonized picture of your target audience.

4. Don’t be creepy.

In the struggle to compete for consumer attention, marketers have been left wondering: where’s the line between creepy and creative in advertising?

The answer lies in carefully implemented personalization.

Not only do GDPR regulations mean there’ll be less user data available to you, you must determine how to use the data you do have, pertinently and effectively.

Mark Roy, founder and chairman of REaD Group, says, “The programmatic advertising sector will feel the regulation the most due to the data requirements it needs for targeting. The GDPR is likely to shift advertising away from the algorithmic models of communicating, back toward a simpler form of advertising, relying on less volume and better-quality data.”

This means personalization is more important than ever, and you don’t need user data to do it.

Make it work: With robust, fully opt-in survey data from a trusted source, you can get all the insight you need into consumers without worrying about crossing any lines. Integrate these insights into your strategy, and you know you can trust the results.

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