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    GDPR is Here, Now What? How to Target Your Customers Without Violating Trust

    The day has come. The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR as it’s affectionately reported, is officially in effect.

    Background

    GDPR is a regulation adopted by the European Union that acts as a protection for consumers’ private information and applies only to individuals within the European Union.

    It has come into effect just months after Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm, made headlines for mining the personal data of over 87 million users via Facebook, with the social media platform’s permission and knowledge.

    A whistleblower from the firm recently disclosed details into the size of the data collection, type of personal information collected and which politicians were buying this data to influence voter opinion.

    GDPR aims to protect consumers online through regulations like the Right of Erasure, which allows users to request their data to be erased for a number of reasons, as well as the Right of Access, which gives citizens the right to request access to the personal information gathered by companies.

    In response to this violation of consumer privacy and trust, many social media platforms quickly reshaped their policies to avoid similar disasters. Facebook even changed its policies and announced in April that it would adhere to GDPR in all areas of operation, not just within the EU.

    Where That Leaves Us

    The slew of policy changes that have come as a result of increased concern over consumer privacy has left advertisers with fewer advertising options and has all but closed the door on many third-party data providers. Facebook’s elimination of its Partner Categories is a prime example of this.

    Facebook no longer allows advertisers access to third-party data for targeting audiences with ads. Previously, Facebook would create audiences for advertisers to target based on data from companies like Oracle, Acxiom and Epsilon, charging a premium for advertisers to use and target these audience segments.

    These audiences were incredibly valuable since they were based on the actual offline demographic and transactional behaviors of a collection of users, and not simply self-reported user interests.

    Additionally, advertisers can no longer target based on sexual orientation as Facebook removed the “interested in” (male or female) from users’ relationship statuses. Matching message with audience is incredibly important when reaching the right user cohorts, so without this information advertisers are unable to be as precise in their targeting as they were before.

    It also makes it harder to utilize different messaging and imagery that caters to specific user preferences and orientations.

    These new limitations in precision go farther than just the ads. It is now also more challenging to identify the right influencers to engage in campaigns to promote products to audiences and user cohorts that may be attracted to a specific brand, product, service or offering.

    Advertisers no longer have easy access to consumers’ shopping behaviors and personal preferences like they did before.

    Lastly, consumer trust in brands and social media platforms has declined significantly. Many users are so distrustful that they’ve left social platforms for good. If enough users leave, advertisers may need to look elsewhere to identify opportunities to reach their core and target audiences. 

    Also, it's fundamental to place an even higher value on affirming your consumer’s trust.

    According to a survey by Ponemon Institute, user trust in Facebook dropped 66% as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. That’s significant.

    Now more than ever, It’s incredibly important to ensure advertising efforts are not breaching consumer trust. Ads should be be targeted, not terrifying. But how?

    Content is King, Now and Forever

    Great content converts. And the first step to generating great content is a solid conceptualization of your audience. Understand who you want to target and accumulate key insights into these personas. You need to comprehend their demographic, interests and preferences.

    To help get a fully detailed picture of your ideal consumer, do your research and model informed buyer personas.

    These help “internalize the ideal customer” and influence not only your advertising efforts, but also your sales, products and services.

    Once you have a clear picture of who you want to reach, you need to figure out how you want to reach them.

    Identify the correct content to use to generate interest and drive your intended action against your business goals. That could be in the form of simple ad text, customer testimonials, reviews or ratings. From there, develop quality creative assets including videos, imagery and GIFs.

    Results from a recent survey by Sprout Social, a social media management platform, showed that the majority of consumers scroll past ads, mainly because there are just so many of them. These same consumers also said the most engaging and therefore effective, social ad content is that which entertains them.

    Over 40% of respondents said that entertaining content makes them more likely to engage with social ads.

    In fact, 83% said videos were the primary format they wanted see from brands. GIFs were also popular, with 58% of respondents saying they enjoyed them.

    Optimize For Everything

    Facebook has relevance scores. Google has ad quality scores. These measurements both refer to how well your ad resonates with your target audience. But it’s important to realize that just because an ad does well on one platform, it’s not guaranteed to do well on all platforms.

    For example, when people are looking up a product on Google, they are most likely actively looking to make a purchase when they come across your ad.

    When people come across that same ad on Facebook, it’s not because they’re actively looking for your product or wanting to buy.

    Optimize your ads by tailoring them to the specific platform on which they’re placed. Adjust your sales funnel by incorporating the right call-to-action. Narrow delivery to the proper audience. Monitor ad frequency. Many of these platforms use the quality/relevance score of your ads as factors in how often and where your they appear.

    Maintain your scores through aesthetically pleasing creative and copy that converts.

    Through optimization, you can lower CPM by ensuring you’re targeting and reaching the right audience with the right message using the right visual.

    Put In The Work

    Increased regulations on consumer data don’t spell the end of the world as we know it for targeted advertising. But it does mean that advertisers are probably going to have to put in a little more legwork if they want their ads to deliver consistent results.

    Do your due diligence and find out all that you (legally!) can about your current and target demographics. Spend some time putting together buyer personas so you can position your brand’s ads in a way that fulfills a need in your consumer’s life. Depending on your audience’s age range, determine which type of content should resonate best with them.

    Take the time to develop ad campaigns specific to each platform. Optimize your ads to each platform’s standards so you have the best chance when it comes to bidding, placement and frequency.

    With GDPR, you may have to pay more attention to your consumers to get a grasp on their behaviors, likes and dislikes. But the information is there. You just have to know where to find it, what it means and how to use it.

    Advertisers can use this as an opportunity to form their own conclusions and insights on who their target/core users are, based on their own analysis of audience engagement and ad performance.

    Instead of relying on third-party data, you’ll now have to be more creative in developing personas and do more experimentation to understand the right time, place and message for your consumers. You’ll need to learn how to rely on your consumers’ collection of interests and demographics that are self-reported, not bought or leveraged from a data provider.

    It’s more work, but targeting consumers without violating their privacy or trust will be (and should be) the norm moving forward.

    Download this whitepaper to learn how AI can improve user engagement!

    About the Author:

    Jeeyan Rostam-Abadi, Director of Media Buying

    Jeeyan Rostam is the Director of Media Buying at Hawke Media, where he oversees a growing team of media analysts, buyers, planners, and designers across Facebook, AdWords, Amazon, and Affiliate marketing channels. Jeeyan's core responsibility as the Director of Media Buying at Hawke Media is to marry the department's people, processes and product to ensure that Hawke's organizational objectives are being met and clients' businesses are growing and scaling through impactful, ROI-focused efforts.

    Published on June 1, 2018
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