The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the EU, which is set to align data protection laws across the continent and hand back control of data to the consumer, could tip the balance of power within the affiliate industry to large media publishers.

The assertion comes from a recently launched whitepaper by affiliate network Awin, which sheds light on nine predictions and forecast trends for the industry throughout 2018.

Within the report, Awin suggests that GDPR could alter the “power dynamic” between brands, ad tech vendors and the publishers they serve; a result of first-party data becoming a “premium” commodity with its use relying on the individual’s consent.

This could potentially put large media publishers at a powerful advantage over third-party partners that currently sell data on their behalf and the brands aiming to connect with their audiences. This is owed to their ability to develop trust and authority among their audiences coupled with the likelihood that consumer details can be acquired in a “value exchange” for access to content.

Meanwhile, a combination of heavy fines for any member of the supply chain in non-compliance with GDPR protocol could see publishers trimming down third-party partners in an attempt to avoid punitive measures and streamline the path to consent. Awin says this could lead to increased competition among vendors and “benefit publishers’ pockets”.

What it means for affiliates

As a result of GDPR, companies using third-party data, such as for behavioural retargeting or programmatic, will find it harder to function.

However, for affiliate marketing employing “simpler” tracking techniques, which are at less risk of infringing the new regulations, GDPR could be a “boon”, drawing in more interest from larger publishers looking to manoeuvre towards safer waters having seen the benefits of the channel amidst the rise of ad blockers.

In this instance, affiliate publishers, on the whole, could reap the benefits of a power shift aided by return business by advertisers and increased commission rates as a result of higher competition. It also has potential to increase pressure on the reviewing of the last-click payment model for publishers’ whose influence has been largely unrewarded so far.

Read more forecasts from Awin in the whitepaper ‘Nine Predictions for Affiliate Marketing in 2018‘, exploring the impact of Google’s Mobile-First Index, the fall of social publishers, among others.