Whenever you hear ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ or ‘GDPR’, there is a high chance you roll your eyes and who can blame you? By the time it was officially introduced back in May, Europe was suffering from GDPR fatigue after being bombarded with contradictory advice, whilst trying to figure out exactly what it meant. But six months since it came into force, has anything really changed?
Has it affected businesses?
There’s no doubt that some industries have been totally turned on their heads. The ad tech industry, for example, was occasionally one that relied on the dodgy use of data, and even before May, the likes of Verve and Drawbridge had pulled out of Europe, with others frantically trying to change their whole business models to ensure compliance.
Even Facebook was hit with a fine for breaking the rules. It was believed by some that the tech giants would be the only organisations relatively safe due to the vast amount of money and resources they had to prepare — a luxury that may other companies just didn’t have.
What about consumers?
The bigger question, however, is what impact GDPR has had for consumers? The regulation was expected to bring with it less cluttered email inboxes, more targeted advertising and better use of quality data. But whether that is being felt by consumers is questionable, to say the least.
I am certainly still getting bombarded with irrelevant emails despite unsubscribing numerous times, or not even agreeing to the emails in the first place, and those little subscribe/unsubscribe boxes on websites certainly don’t meet my expectations of what an ‘explicit’ explanation of data use should be. I’m fairly confident that most consumers haven’t noticed any change at all.
When you speak to a consumer about data, most of the time they talk about it in the context of data leaks or breaches. This is unsurprising considering that every other day there are headlines of data being leaked or stolen from an organisation. Quite rightly, data breaches scare consumers but we shouldn’t let that get in the way of the opportunities that come with data.
Using data for the right reasons
Until consumers properly understand how data is used, how valuable it is to brands and also the difference sharing data can make to customer experience, we are less likely to see any real impact consumer-side in regards to GDPR.
Consumers need to be better educated on data. While data misuse is an important topic and it should be regulated, if we want to live in a hyper personalised world where brands ‘get’ us and understand our needs, there needs to be a certain level of responsible data sharing. And, despite GDPR being 6 months in, I’m not quite sure we are there yet.