Walled Gardens: The Data Dilemma in the New World of GDPR

“GDPR is the biggest legal change of the digital age” – Mark Lomas of Cap Gemini

With less than a month until the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into full effect on May 25th, organizations across all industries continue to scramble to ensure their business practices comply with one of the biggest EU consumer privacy law updates in decades.  

The unusually high amount of “privacy policy updates” filling your inbox in recent weeks is not a coincidence, as companies attempt to put their best foot forward in the new age of GDPR law.

While the new regulations will go into effect in just a few weeks, it’s certainly not too late to ensure your organization is on the right side of the law.

Quantcast calls for all our peers to set an example, by ensuring our future actions respect the spirit of GDPR law and adapt to the quickly changing world of consumer privacy.

Unfortunately, with the recent court hearings regarding Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the advertising and publishing industry has taken a hit, both in the public eye and in the media.

Organizations such as Quantcast have been inaccurately compared to the likes of Facebook, Google, and Amazon, with concern to data collection, when in reality, how we and our tech and content marketing peers collect data and serve our customers differs greatly.

In addition to ensuring your organization is up to date with the latest GDPR regulations,  Quantcast believes in the importance of all companies being open and transparent with how they are serving their customers.

 

Walled Gardens vs. Tech and Publishers

Despite what the media and public eye have been led to believe, different companies collect data in different ways.

Not all data collection is the same.

When discussing the topic of data collection, it’s important to note that there is a significant difference in how Quantcast (and our peers) operate, compared to Facebook, Google, and Amazon. While the “Big Three” collect personally identifiable information (or PII) to better serve their customers, Quantcast collects data without the need for PII.

For example, when you sign up for Facebook, you enter your name, phone number, age, and email, all of which according to their terms of services can be used to allow advertisers to target you with more relevant advertising.

When you use Gmail, Google takes note of what you write and read about, then uses that to improve the advertising experience that is delivered to you through their multiple platforms. It also keeps track of all your searches via Google search and everywhere you go via Google Maps.

And those apps you use to communicate with friends and family? Your conversations are being tracked there, too.

Lastly, Amazon has access to your shopping history and wishlist, which is used to recommend products and services they believe might bring value to you.

Based on the wealth of information Facebook, Google, and Amazon,collect from you; it is entirely possible to identify you personally, that is, know with near certainty who you are and your typical buying behavior.  

Of course, pointing out the fact that Facebook, Google, and Amazon, collect your information in this manner is not a slight at three of the most iconic companies in the world. All three companies provide tremendous value for you in exchange for your personal information.

With that said, the data Quantcast and our peers collect to help serve our clients does not contain any PII such as name, email, etc. that can then be used to identify you personally.   

We believe there is plenty of opportunity in the advertising and technology industry to use pseudonymous data that helps drive business objectives, while keeping user privacy in tact. The core of our business relies on leveraging data to provide insights on audience and population segments with a key focus on information that is not personally identifiable.

 

Who The Audience Is vs. Who The Audience Might Be

While social media sites know the exact websites you log in to through their app ecosystem, Quantcast only knows your general browser history based on “cookies” placed during your web visits thanks to our thousands of Quantified partners. The use of HTML cookies is a widely accepted and utilized method to improve one’s online experience.

Through the use of cookies, and our advertising partners, Quantcast can make an accurate educated guess about your buying behavior and general demographics so that our advertising partners can serve you, without knowing who you are.  We believe targeted content can significantly improve the online experience for people around the world.

Would you rather see an ad for something you don’t care about or something that gets your attention and never knew you needed? Wouldn’t it be nice to get a coupon for a highly recommended restaurant near you, while you are traveling on vacation?  With hundreds of valuable geo-targeted offers, having a general idea of your online behavior is a powerful way for brands to serve you best.

Our intention at Quantcast is never to identify exactly who you are, but rather use our technology and resources to help serve you better products and services that bring you value by building an statistically-educated guess of your likes and desires based on your online behavior.

We believe that it’s entirely possible to balance the amount of information our community collects to deliver an excellent product, while also respecting all users’ privacy. In the end, using data the right way can improve the online experience for everyone involved.

 

Setting The Standard

As we have noted previously, “The ambition of GDPR in putting more control into the hands of consumers should be lauded, but the risk it poses to the publishers delivering quality, independent editorial news, should concern us all.”

GDPR will no doubt change the way businesses operate, but we all must adapt to the updated rules and regulations to stay relevant and serve  our customers and clients most effectively.

While there is certainly a need for updated consumer privacy standards, we believe the positive use cases of ethical advertising far outweigh the recent negative portrayal of advertising in the press and are committed to continuing to educate online users across the globe on the powerful use cases of data collection.

GDPR has quickly altered the way the world does business and will no doubt affect hundreds of thousands of companies big and small, but respecting user privacy is an essential component of doing business in the modern age and we remain committed to setting a new standard.

Since our founding, Quantcast has been built on respecting our user’s privacy through design, and we will continue to improve the way we share information with our partners to deliver the best experience possible.

Ultimately we are in the business of helping companies and brands serve tailored content and products and services to people who want and need it most as well as helping publishers monetize their content, so they can keep creating the quality content readers love. As we move forward with the new GDPR regulations, it is our responsibility to continue to improve the way we collect data and use it for good.

As an active participant in solving for GDPR, Quantcast is excited to bring IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework to our customers and partners with our free Consent Management Provider (CMP) solution: Quantcast Choice.