Everyone is Changing to Comply with GDPR. Here’s What You Need to Know

The GDPR and Google Analytics

*Note: This is a high-level overview, NOT a detailed insight into the implications of the GDPR*

Data retention and use is an important topic right now – from Facebook’s current controversy in the Congressional limelight to the implementation of Europe’s GDPR in May.

Every platform on which marketing and advertising takes place, including analytics platforms, is going through a shakeup as a result of Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect May 25th. The GDPR highlights ever-increasing international sensitivity around data use and protection.

The GDPR will have a number of indirect effects on companies of all sizes and in all locations, including changing marketing and advertising practices to be less “spammy,” and into more of an “ask before speaking” model.

What is GDPR?

GDPR sets regulations that apply to transactions that take place within EU member states. According to CSO Online, once the GDPR is in place, “companies will need the same level of protection for things like an individual’s IP address or cookie data as they do for name, address and Social Security number.”

The GDPR applies to any data collected on European Union residents, regardless of where the company doing the actual collecting is located. Many companies in the US will be affected, and certainly the tools they use will be under strict scrutiny.

The vagueness of the language surrounding the GDPR still has many businesses concerned. For instance, what does a “reasonable” level of protection for personal data mean? Companies will have to go the extra mile to prioritize data protection as they enter an environment that will likely involve hard-t0-understand fines for breaches and non-compliance based on non-specific language.

Google’s Changes in Response

Though Google has been accused of using the new regulations to squeeze publishers unfairly, the company is continually creating tools and updates to ensure compliance. The GDPR framework essentially calls for consent before utilizing EU user data and strengthens enforcement and regulation around any violations to data protection rules. Google is passing that requirement on to its publishers.

The GDPR refines Google’s already existing policies for advertisers, which require them to get consent from users to use the Google advertising platform. Extra steps will be required to get consent, and non-personalized ads will become an important option for advertising businesses.

Google is also offering Google Analytics Data Retention Controls that allow publishers to set a certain amount of time before data at the user and event level stored by Analytics is deleted from servers (you can choose anywhere from 14-50 months, or choose the option to not allow data to expire).  This likely won’t change standard Google Analytics reporting, but according to Google will apply to custom segments or other unique custom reports that utilize DoubleClick cookies, Android’s Advertising ID, and Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers.

Google also offers this suite of tools to keep data secure and help publishers maintain GDPR compliance.

What Does This Mean for your Business?

In the modern online environment, almost all websites are collecting data and engaging with users around the globe. This means compliance with the GDPR is a necessity for almost every business.

Websites should be notifying users they are collecting cookie data, to start. Each business is advised to use a lawyer to be sure on the topic to ensure they are doing what is necessary to comply with regulations as the May 25th date approaches.

Marketing Experts Advise: “Ask First”

The GDPR doesn’t have to be looked at as a negative, according to marketing expert Seth Godin— in fact, it can be positive for marketers who really want to improve. The new regulations force the marketing community to focus on disseminating information to those who actually care to listen. He notes that these regulations could lead to an improved marketing environment in which:

  • Noise will decrease, and trust will increase.
  • Spam is less ubiquitous.
  • Asking first becomes the norm, which means targeting people who are ready and willing to listen.

Everyone Will Be Watching

As the summer goes on, information will continue to become available about the impact of the GDPR. Have something to add? Let us know in the comments!

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