GLOBAL: Cross-device identity company Drawbridge’s decision to withdraw its advertising business from the European market ahead of GDPR throws the need for collaboration across the industry into stark relief.

Drawbridge intends to close its London office this year and move partner services to its NYC headquarters, AdExchanger reported. Under GDPR, the EU regulation set to come into force this May, Drawbridge, which owns no consumer-facing touch points, faces a significant challenge in collecting consumer data.

“In light of GDPR, we have made the decision to no longer run an advertising business in Europe,” wrote Mike Murphy, a Drawbridge spokesperson, in an email to MediaPost.

The company has a two-pronged strategy: on one side, a media-buying group, and on the other, its data business, which licenses identity solutions. Due to the need to get consent to harvest data from media owners’ users (who will typically not know of Drawbridge), the task of compliance is, the company believes, insurmountable.

CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan told AdExchanger that the company “must focus on what we do best, which will also position Drawbridge for long-term success”. While it is exploring compliance in its data business, part of the problem is a lack of clarity “around how the industry at large is ensuring consent from consumers”.

Broadly, the issue of enforcement is recurring. Though the regulation is designed to unify rules across the continent, enforcement is the responsibility of each nation, leading to even greater confusion.  

Speaking at the Guardian Changing Media Summit in London last week, Channel 4’s director of consumer insight, Sarah Rose, explained that her organisation was working closely with peers to prepare for GDPR. (For more, read Three key takeouts from The Guardian Changing Media Summit).

“It is not competitive,” she said. All marketers are in it together and should work together to be better prepared and implement it correctly, Rose added.

Though the changes are significant for brands and traditional media owners, it is martech that is “hurting” the most, one exchange tech vendor working with Drawbridge told AdExchanger.

For many companies, the option to continue operating in Europe involves a shift toward a customer data platform structure, where the management of first-party data on behalf of brands carries less regulation, as the data is not then applied to ads. Currently, many in the martech industry find themselves waiting and watching for the regulation’s impact.

Sourced from AdExchanger; additional content by WARC staff