Targeted Advertising & GDPR: A Guide

Since GDPR came into effect, it has had an impact on lots of industries and their daily functions, but in particular, marketing departments have seen some larger changes to the way they work. This is because much of marketing relies on collecting and analysing the data of customers or website users in order to target them with future content. Data protection means that marketing professionals need to be more cautious than ever when handling sensitive data, especially if they hope to remain GDPR compliant and avoid being faced with a fine.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at what GDPR means for a business’ marketing efforts, looking specifically at targeted advertising. In order to do this, we’ll be addressing the three following questions:

  • What are the benefits of targeted advertising?
  • How does GDPR affect targeted advertising?
  • What can businesses do to ensure their targeted adverts are GDPR compliant?

So, whether you’re a small business just starting out with your marketing strategy or you’re a big organisation who wants to ensure your marketing efforts are 100% compliant, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out more about targeted advertising under GDPR.

What are the benefits of targeted advertising?

The more time we spend online, the more sophisticated targeted advertising has become. In recent years, there has been an increase in tools for collecting and analysing data to help businesses target consumers where they spend most of their time – for example, on apps or on different social media platforms. The idea behind this is that businesses can increase their conversion rates, save money and of course, boost sales.

And it’s not just about businesses either. Though we might not always think about it, consumers lives can be better thanks to targeted advertising, as it presents them with products or services that are actually of interest to them. There’s nothing more annoying than irrelevant products and pop-ups, but when businesses use their metrics to target effectively, internet users are faced with goods that can add real value to their lives.

 How does GDPR affect targeted advertising?

In the early stages of GDPR compliance, it can feel as if these regulations are stifling and could negatively impact targeted advertising – any advertising for that matter. This is because targeted campaigns rely heavily on collecting and analysing this information, but if GDPR put limitations on data collection, this could result in limitations on advertising.

The good news is, GDPR can actually have a positive impact on your marketing efforts in the long run. The need to be meticulous about data collection and ensure consent at every turn means that businesses will only be targeting those who actually want to receive content and offers from them. This, in turn, can lead to better conversion rates and better brand engagement. Some of the keys ways in which targeted advertising can be affected by GDPR include:

  • Web browsers have to request users to opt-in to tracking and cookies
  • When collecting data such as email addresses (for example, for newsletters) explicit consent must be given
  • There must be a clear and easy way for consumers to opt-out of receiving marketing materials at any time they want
  • Businesses must be careful when using automated systems for targeted advertising, any systems used need to be 100% GDPR compliant

What can businesses do to ensure they’re staying GDPR compliant?

Just because GDPR requires a bit of extra work, it doesn’t make targeted advertising impossible. If anything, it could have a positive impact on your marketing efforts over time. The best way to ensure that your team is able to keep its marketing strategy going without disruption is to keep GDPR at the forefront of every decision and campaign and to ensure compliance at every level. How can you do this? There are six ways you can make sure your targeted advertising is GDPR compliant, as outlined below:

Perfect your sign-up forms

If you have a pop-up form or a sign-up page, you need to get these just right. Collecting emails can allow you to target consumers or users with very specific content or offers, but you need to make sure these ask for explicit consent to do this. Don’t use any underhand tactics such as pre-ticked boxes, as these are illegal under GDPR.

Ask for specific preferences

If you want to be able to legitimately collect more data about your customers or users, you could also ask them to share their preferences with you. For example, when signing up for a newsletter ask them what types of information they would like to receive. This allows you to target them more specifically, whilst staying within the bounds of consent and GDPR.

Inform individuals how their data will be used

Your business must provide clear and concise literature about how you intend to use the data you’re collecting. This can be its own separate page or it can be included on the opt-in forms. It also applies to all platforms, including social media pages such as Facebook (which is particularly popular for targeted advertising) and your business website.

Make sure you have an opt-out option

Just because an individual has agreed to your terms and shared their information with you, it doesn’t mean they are tied in forever. There must be a clear way that they can opt-out of receiving your marketing materials and targeted advertising, such as unsubscribe buttons on emails and social media profiles.

Always ask for cookie consent

Cookies and tracking on websites were once the perfect way for businesses to collect information about users. The push on data protection means it is no longer acceptable to just take this information. As such, you need to make sure you ask for cookie consent on your websites and social media platforms. This can be done with a simple pop-up form.

Deal with access and deletion requests

A huge part of GDPR is giving control back to individuals, as such, they have the right to request their information at any time and ask for it to be deleted. If you’ve lawfully collected information for targeted advertising but you receive an access or deletion quest you must act fast. If a customer or user no longer wishes for you to have their information, it must be removed from your systems right away to ensure GDPR compliance.

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