Walled gardens: GDPR will build even higher fences

Home Blends & Trends 28 May 2018

Doors and gates are closing, while APIs are under lock and key: GDPR and recent data leaks mean that platforms are filtering data access for external partners.
What effect will the GDPR (and the resulting heightened data vigilance) have on brands and so-called walled gardens?

Hugo Loriot, Global Director Media at fifty-five, explains it all.

Viuz: How are big advertising platforms Google and Facebook responding to GDPR?

Hugo Loriot: Google and Facebook have each recently published their recommendations concerning data access for third parties.

Google, Facebook, and all their brands aimed at the end user fall under the regime of the publisher, or data controller.

However, Google Analytics and the DoubleClick measurement system are taking the neutral position, working as data processors for platform users.

Don’t forget that under the GDPR, a “controller” determines data’s end use and how it should be processed, while a “processor” processes data for the controller.

For measurement platforms like Google Analytics, it is up to the brand or publisher to prove that they are in compliance with GDPR and its new data processing regulations. Facebook has taken the same position, with its recent decision to cut out data from third parties like Experian in its ad targeting.

Viuz: What impact will these new measures have on brands?

Hugo Loriot: The first change is that any brand that wants to pass user data through Google Analytics is responsible to prove compliance. Google recently shared new free tools to delete data history or to modify the length of time data can be accessed.

The second change, more questionable and questioned, is related to Google’s decision to limit access to YouTube user data for third parties, which gives their DoubleClick measurement tool a competitive edge.

It’s a new way of closing data within walled gardens. Far from its original intent, GDPR will be building walls higher than ever.

Viuz: Are brands doomed to become temporary gardeners in these private American gardens?

Hugo Loriot: Many brands, and especially FMCG companies, have been faced with a double bind, with diktats coming first from advertising platforms and then from distribution networks.

For the first time, platforms can impose purchase methods, creative formats, and specific KPIs on advertisers. Though a brand might have broadcasted the same 30-second spot, invoiced on the same estimated GRP measured and based on the same indicators, they now have to develop Bumper or Masthead videos for YouTube, and Collections or Canvas for Facebook. Brands might also be forced to compare true-view costs with an in-feed CPM, or to find out if 10 seconds of viewing on Facebook counts as a fully viewed video (“non-skipped”) on YouTube.

Third-party players that are trusted or have multi-platform measurement standards will emerge, which is already the case with Oracle, Nielsen, and Neustar, but they will still depend on the goodwill of Google and Facebook, which can accept or reject them at the drop of a hat.

Viuz: What advice do you have for brands to survive in the walled garden era?

Hugo Loriot: The Google-Facebook-Amazon trifecta is bringing brands into a paradoxical age of almost-blind trust at unavoidable intersections.

And who is at the heart of this paradox? On one side, we have the Chief Marketing Officers of large global brands who are expressing a growing desire for holistic, continual, and transparent measurement for clicks and user behaviour. On the other, three big players at the head of a movement in the opposite direction, restricting media and attribution analyses.

Brands should aim to remain data driven, without having all data at their fingertips. This means finding alternative techniques, like A/B Tests to compare exposed and unexposed users on a large scale, or protocols derived from econometrics, while remaining adapted for real time activation.

The dream of a continuum of fluid, open, measurable, exportable and analysable client data has been met with the closed gates of platform’s walled gardens. It is up to advertisers, along with their agency and consulting partners, to adapt to this new order.

This article was originally published on VIUZ and translated from french by Niamh Cloughley.

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