If we’ve learnt anything over the past year, it’s that GDPR has been a blessing in disguise for location marketing. After an initial period of uncertainty and turmoil, the industry is finally starting to flourish as we enter year two of GDPR.

A period of adjustment

After GDPR was implemented, the industry faced a collective challenge of campaign under-delivery, which led to an initial loss of faith in data, supply and media partners that used data analytics to fuel campaigns, with location partners being hit particularly hard. This issue affected all media channels and in response the industry saw a lot of planning, buying and marketing budgets being shifted to other channels, such as social. 

Some serious work needed to be done so that the industry could bounce back from this initial blip. This was a great opportunity to go in and refine how SSPs and publishers dealt with GDPR. Fundamentally, the industry had to emerge from all of this as compliant, trustworthy and, overall, transparent. It’s highly encouraging to see that publishers, agencies and adtech vendors alike have reached an agreement on an industry standard for compliance, which will ensure trust and transparency across the board. 

A reduced but strengthened market

Since choosing a bad data partner reflects badly on brands, it’s now recognised that being a good partner is a matter of survival in today’s GDPR compliant world. And given that the industry is still learning what GDPR means, with different interpretations coming from different places, only those who are poised to adapt and transform will survive. 

We’ve seen that businesses who haven’t taken GDPR seriously enough have since left the European market, leaving behind fewer location partners across the landscape. The silver lining of this GDPR related market downsize is that marketers and their agencies can now be confident that those businesses leading the charge on data transparency, are the ones that brands can rely on and trust. 

Planning and buying is easier now more than ever

The changes over the last year mean that data from adtech and martech providers is cleaner than ever when coming from GDPR compliant businesses, which makes planning and buying location data much easier. With fewer location data providers in the market, the ones remaining must be compliant in order to compete. Media planners and buyers should feel safe knowing that those they partner with are trustworthy and the data they are getting is clean, providing those vendors are being open and transparent about their approach to being GDPR compliant. Vendors that have been at the forefront of GDPR compliance, allow agencies and brands to reap the benefits of location data with confidence. 

Preparing for the long-term effects

To align themselves with GDPR regulations, brands have made efforts to be as transparent as possible with consumers too, through the adoption of a consent process. In real terms, this means it is now normal for consumers to go through consent screens after, for example, downloading free mobile apps or signing up to other free services, such as social media websites or publications. Of course, this has led consumers to discover that there is actually a transaction occurring here – a transaction of personal data in exchange for a service. This boost in consumer awareness about how data is used – a direct result of GDPR – is really positive to see.  

As we move into the future this awareness is only going to grow. Over the next year, regulators will be coming out in force to ensure positive change continues to happen the way it has so far. The effect will be that businesses have to be more explicit than ever about what’s happening behind the scenes with user data. And with tech vendors that are well poised to meet evolving regulations now standing strong, consumers and brands alike can look forward to an ever more transparent future.