TORONTO: Two new pieces of legislation in the European Union could transform digital marketing in the region and beyond, and may also encourage brands to address their failings in this space, a leading executive from PageFair has argued.

Johnny Ryan, Head of Ecosystem at the anti-ad blocking solutions provider, discussed this subject at the World Federation of Advertisers' (WFA) 2017 Global Marketer Week.

More specifically, he suggested the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ePrivacy Regulation – both set to come into full effect in May 2018 – will make a profound impression on the marketing industry.

"What I want to impress on you is the change that is happening now is a reason – or an excuse – for us to get back to the basics of media that works," he said. (For more details, read WARC's free-to-access report: How new EU laws may transform digital marketing across the globe.)

"And that means the discussion about digital, as it matures past its very immature stage now, should start to sound much more like a discussion about print, or radio, or TV – in other words, media that actually function the way they should."

The provisions in the GDPR and draft ePrivacy legislation raise the bar for consumer consent in digital marketing, for example by requiring active validation rather than letting brands use unchecked boxes or silence as a marker of agreement.

Data access for consumers is another priority outlined in the regulations. And as the new GDPR rules will apply to entities across the globe serving consumers in the EU, they are likely to have an impact well beyond European borders.

"We know that wrongly-permissioned personal information will be toxic on the 26th May, 2018," Ryan reported to the WFA delegates.

"We know that much of the industry is going to have to think about switching off the behavioral data because we don't have a legal basis for it. We know this, and we have to start looking at alternatives."

A more rigorous assessment of current practices, however, could also help tackle some of the motivations people have for ad blocking – including clutter and privacy concerns – as well as industry issues like ad fraud and viewability problems.

"How do we correct a decade of mistakes in digital – mistakes made because the medium was too young, and we did not yet know what we now know?" Ryan asked in summarising this challenge.

Data sourced from WARC