LONDON: Marketers are justifiably focused on GDPR, due to be implemented in May 2018, but a technical approach to compliance needs to be supplemented with public education as there is widespread misunderstanding of the collection of data and the uses to which it is put.

WARC Toolkit 2018 survey results show that data management will be a major priority for brands in 2018 as, driven by GDPR and adverse publicity from data breaches, they take a more disciplined and proactive approach to the subject.

That has included carrying out audits to find out precisely what data they possess, and how it is being used.

An emphasis on this essential internal work, however, is in danger of neglecting the originators of the data and the very people who are supposed to benefit from its collection.

A recent survey by video advertising platform LoopMe, of 1,000 UK and US consumers, found that just 18% understood what data was being gathered for advertising purposes, while 60% wanted ads and online experiences to be more relevant to their needs.

At the same time, 48% were happy for advertisers to use their anonymous data if it kept online sites free and wasn’t linked back to the consumer, but 62% were unaware that data gathered is encrypted and cannot be used to identify an individual.

This lack of understanding shows just how far the advertising industry needs to go in terms of consumer education, said LoopMe.

The industry may also need to change its mindset in other ways. At ad:tech London last week, Mikayla Samuels of Kantar TNS suggested that “marketers are so caught up in using technology that we've lost our humanity”.

Retargeting and a lack of relevance has resulted in UK consumers becoming fed up with digital ads, she said, and rebuilding trust means learning to respect their space. (For more read WARC’s report: Your algorithm is showing: why trust matters in a post-truth world.)

Speaking to WARC, Ardi Kolah, Executive Fellow & Programme Director, GDPR Transition Programme, Henley Business School, stressed that GDPR is not a technical issue.

“This is about reputation, not regulation,” he said. There is an opportunity to deepen digital trust and do more with personal data: “that is the opportunity for marketers.”

Sourced from Toolkit 2018, LoopMe; additional content by WARC staff