The introduction of GDPR saw programmatic ad spending sharply decline, but with Digiday reporting that this had begun to recover as little as a month after the new legislation was enforced, the usefulness of data protection hasn’t gone unnoticed by brands. In fact, it’s set to benefit companies ever more so in 2020 with better targets and personalization among some of the advantages. 

Here, I will be explaining what exactly GDPR will mean for programmatic advertising in 2020. 

Fewer targets, but more relevant ones

Unsurprisingly, since GDPR was implemented, it’s been increasingly difficult for advertisers to harvest user-data, which was previously readily available to them. And, despite the initial nosedive in programmatic buys pre- and post-GDPR enforcement, it’s actually given companies the opportunity to yield cleaner and more reliable data: something that’s much more useful and targeted for them. 

While I believe that GDPR will end programmatic advertising as we know it, it doesn’t mean that programmatic advertising will fizzle out in 2020, and certainly won’t mean the change should be viewed in a negative light. Instead, it’ll give businesses a better opportunity to get relevant ads to the right people. And, while the advertising industry could see a move towards getting more informed consent for profiles they use for programmatic advertising, these consented profiles will also provide richer data, meaning your marketing campaigns can be more targeted. 

It’s clear that change is happening, and it’s important that the advertising world is adapting quickly to avoid losing out on the benefits of programmatic advertising can bring, particularly in light of GDPR. 

Personalization could be impacted but will evolve

Personalization in marketing is crucial for seeing results. In fact, 70 percent of marketers asked in a survey by Evergage said they believed personalization had a “strong,” or “extremely strong” impact on advancing customer relationships. But, some advertisers are claiming that the effect of GDPR and, the data collection issues that have risen from its implementation, have ruined personalization.

This is for a number of reasons. For one, web users now have to agree to cookie tracking, so websites are having to emphasize the benefits of opting in and hope that visitors will do so. But, for others that deem cookies highly important to their marketing strategy, gating their content until the user accepts may be the only option. 

And, with programmatic publishers losing out on a high percentage of third-party cookies, due to browsers adapting to GDPR, it means more content is unable to be personalized for a proportion of their audience. 

While I can understand why this might be seen as a setback for advertisers at face value, it can improve the usefulness of data collected and personalization of marketing campaign for customers they do have data for. This is because only those visitors with intent to buy or who view the site as useful are likely to accept cookies, particularly if the rest of the content is restricted until the agreement is submitted. 

We have already seen programmatic customization rise, and this combined with the quality of data we now have access to, means that ad creatives are able to change media depending on the observed user relevance. And, it’s not just the optimization of these ad spaces that is going to be useful for advertisers, but also the ability to measure results in real time and adapt immediately. 

Omnichannel programmatic will become more important

Multichannel has been replaced by omnichannel as marketers have become more aware of their users. This has been mainly influenced by the multi-device ownership that’s common for digital users nowadays, and the fact that these are all used for different purposes. As a result, advertisers are having to adapt and provide digitally sequenced ads across many channels. 

Again, there are marketers who look at the changes that browsers are making to third party tracking negatively, particularly with regards to monetization and advertiser effectiveness. This is because the mandatory visitor opt-in for cookie tracking prevents user ID creation and data collection, which disrupts monetization of the open web through advertising. However, giving each web user more control over how their data is used and shared is a correct and necessary practice and will hopefully drive more people to agree to cookie tracking. 

Despite these shortfalls brought from the changes, contextual advertising is set to benefit. There will be many positive implications for producing content in the near future; one of which is that it adopts an omnichannel approach. This means that planning can be driven by the relevant audiences, rather than being led by channels, therefore more effective campaigns can be measured and delivered. 

GDPR has brought many changes for programmatic advertising, and while the crackdown on privacy and data collection has restricted marketing in some ways, the opportunity for richer, more targeted campaigns will be worth it.

Published December 27, 2019 — 08:00 UTC