GDPR has kickstarted a fresh data culture and given rise to a new generation of marketers

Stephen Upstone
FSA Gives New Rules To Banks On Employee Bonuses
Customer data from mobile phones is increasingly valuable (Source: Getty)

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) era has been upon us for a few months since implementation in late May – which took some businesses off guard.

The flurry of emails to customer inboxes around GDPR compliance has (mostly) stopped.

As every business should know by now, this new European regulation means companies will need to be more accountable over how they collect, use, and store personal data.

Read more: People-based marketing can unlock a lifetime of value

This regulation has already kickstarted a change in data culture, as recent research conducted by my company LoopMe has found.

And on a much deeper level, marketers are reassessing the value of data and its lifespan.

Data’s higher valuation

We found that just half of UK marketers (52 per cent) think that customers’ data will be reliable for between one and two years. Nearly three in 10 surveyed thought that the useful lifespan of data was less than one year.

We also spoke to marketers in the US, who placed a longer lifespan on data than UK respondents. But this view fails to recognise that data is depreciating more quickly in the GDPR era, and so needs to be renewed as regularly as possible. It may be no coincidence that data has a lower valuation in the States, where GDPR compliance is much less of a concern.

We’re seeing that GDPR has brought to light not only the importance of data privacy, but the value of data itself.

Our research suggests that the culture of data for marketing purposes is in full transition – and it’s moving towards a recognition that data is something really valuable.

This change in data culture is no longer a regulatory aspiration, but a real phenomenon that is shaping the strategy and day-to-day campaign management of marketing and media companies.

Data has been a game-changer over the last two decades, providing new levels of precision that traditional marketing hasn’t always been able to offer. But GDPR has added a new imperative for data handlers

to take stock of this asset, and reevaluate how they are using it to their best advantage.

Marketers and advertisers have to think carefully about the sources of data that they have at their disposal from now on. Making sure data profiles remain as reliable and up-to-date as possible will be central to data strategy.

Our survey also showed that marketers are still heavily reliant on desktop data – nearly half thought that it was the richest source of data. But this risks overlooking the full value of mobile data.

Smartphone usage overtook desktop in 2017, with people browsing the internet and spending more and more time on apps. This is a highly valuable source of data that shouldn’t be underestimated. We owe it to consumers to provide the best advertising and brand experiences, and strong data profiles are the enablers of this.

Getting to grips with GDPR

There are signs that digital marketers are finding their feet with GDPR, and are getting to grips with the new regulatory environment.

In conversations with our clients earlier this year, some weren’t fully clear what the regulatory change would mean. But across the industry, marketing and advertising technology suppliers had long been preparing for the change.

We made sure that action plans were in place, contracts had been updated, and expectations were set.

Clients are now fully adapting to the GDPR era, and we’re helping to make the expected change in data culture a reality.

More transparency

But the reality is that these are not easy times for data handlers and processors. The Cambridge Analytica scandal hasn’t gone away, and digital advertising is still on a journey towards cleaning up its ecosystem.

GDPR should help with transparency issues, and everyone trusts that the stated aims of the regulation won’t lead to lasting disruption for data collection.

One thing that is becoming clear is that GDPR hasn’t just invited the consumer to take more control of their data. It has also given rise to a new generation of marketers, who appreciate data in a whole new light.

Read more: Droning on: How drones are transforming marketing

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.