Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Brought to book

Debbie Pell cuts through the red tape and looks at what the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation means for ordinary businesses trying to reach their target markets.
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It has come to pass that the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica episode has brought into sharp focus what we all suspected: that technology has (rather alarmingly) got well ahead of itself. Hello big boy GDPR.

It’s human nature, isn’t it, to take the easiest route, the path of least resistance, and only change direction when an obstacle is met. By the time of publication, businesses will be subject to the new GDPR legislation and need to be aware just what that actually means.

Still not up to speed? Well, you need to be, as it’s not going to go away, even if we do finally extract ourselves from Europe. Deemed by Liz Denham, the UK’s Information Commissioner who is in charge of data protection enforcement, as evolution not revolution, the law is intended to tighten up on the use and misuse of personal data, how it is used, gathered and held.

Personally, I find it refreshing. I’m looking forward to cutting my email inbox by 99%, saving the daily ritual of deleting unwanted and irrelevant messages. Did I really sign up to receive information on pills for the dog’s constipation? I don’t think so, anyway, I thought I’d unsubscribed from that retailer anyway.

So, a brief summary (stay with me): after four years of preparation and debate, GDPR is the biggest change in the last two decades, bringing outdated personal data rules up to speed with an increasingly digital era. The amount of data we now produce wasn’t foreseeable when current data protection laws were drawn up. The aim is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world that is vastly different from the time in which the 1995 directive was established. Although the key principles of data privacy still hold true to the previous directive, conditions for consent have been strengthened and companies will no longer be able to use long illegible terms and conditions full of legalese, as the request for consent must be given in an intelligible and easily accessible form, with the purpose for data processing attached to that consent. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to provide it.‚Äč

As well as instigating new obligations on companies and organisations collecting personal data, GDPR also gives individuals more power to access information held about them. Requests for personal information can be made free of charge (there used to be a £10 charge). When someone asks a business for his or her data, the business must stump up the information within one month. Everyone will have the right to obtain confirmation from an organisation that has information about them, access this information and any other supplementary information. GDPR bolsters a person’s rights around the automated processing of data. The new regulation provides individuals with the power to have their personal data erased in some circumstances. This includes where it is no longer necessary for the purpose for which it was collected, if consent is withdrawn, there’s no legitimate interest and if it was unlawfully processed.
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In short, the legislation is about more data protection and, as a consequence, firms will have to think a little bit more about how to reach people and put the digital blunderbuss back in the cupboard.

I’ve recently gone back to having many of my groceries delivered in an electric van and sourced from local farms. Yes, it’s (slightly) more expensive, but my goodness it tastes better, and that’s not just because I know I’m doing my bit for the environment. The people who actually work to produce the food get the money they deserve (Sainsbury’s and Asda eat your heart out).

For those who may miss Shirlee Posner’s artisan food contribution in essence, don’t, it’s invaluable. After all, do we really want to have less choice and for our lives to be controlled by fewer and larger companies and individuals? Sometimes the easy route is not the right way to go and we need to be told. That now applies to businesses’ marketing. Time has been called on the days when just pressing a button to send thousands of emails with the latest ‘flash sale’ or ‘bogof’ offer into the ether in the hope that someone might respond and this is now officially unacceptable.

Marketing will have to be rethought and we need to go back to basics. The pendulum was swinging back to traditional media even before the great Facebook shove as digital has proved to be too indiscriminate and intrusive; in some instances having a negative effect on a firm’s reputation rather than a positive one. Books have seen off the Kindle challenge and come back, just as radio did against television, which in turn has and is making a comeback against digital and social. Don’t take my word for it: look at what the large media agencies WPP, Publicis and Omnicom are saying.

The Mad Men are happy digital is being brought to book and traditional media is making a return. Brand safety has been thrust into the limelight, after all, do you really want your company seen next to some unregulated toxic content? Traditional media offers control as it’s been regulated for years. The digital Pandora’s box needed to be regulated. Marc Prichard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer last year described the digital media supply as: “murky at best and fraudulent at worst”.

There’s also established data for returns on traditional media advertising. TV heads the list with a return of £1.73 per pound spent, radio and print follow at around £1.60 and £1.40, with digital bringing up the rear and at best breaking even. That goes against current vogue and perception that digital is king! To be fair, there is a lack of reliable data for digital, but that’s part of the problem.

In the brave new world, technology has its place alongside traditional media – just like the local farms. Time to rethink those marketing plans: decent website yes, social media presence yes, app designed yes. Now why did we place all our eggs in the digital basket?

Changes brought by new legislation tend to hit smaller companies hardest as they have less resources. The flip side is that reactions are quicker and decisions are implemented far speedier than with larger entities.

essence has quickly developed new strategies to offer a more balanced mix of print and new media. With the resurgence in the value of traditional media and overhaul of new media options, the magazine will offer a powerful marketing tool to a valuable market.

This step change is a chance to revert back to the good old days with the added bonus of all that's good about the internet.

Back to my inbox problem, if GDPR sorts that, I’ll be happy. If true stories such as the person who ordered a garden shed online and then was persistently targeted by ads selling sheds (how many sheds do you need after all?) are consigned to history, then we’ll have succeeded in putting the genie back in the bottle.

Revolution is, perhaps, correct: matters do have a habit of coming round full circle. The most valuable thing we have is time and time well spent is the true elixir.

If true stories such as the person who ordered a garden shed online and then was persistently targeted by ads selling sheds (how many sheds do you need after all?) are consigned to history, then we’ll have succeeded in putting the genie back in the bottle.

“The most recent (Facebook) scandal has served to expose a broken and unbalanced ecosystem reliant on unscrupulous personal data collection and micro-targeting for whatever purposes promise to generate clicks and revenues. In such a distorted environment, everyone must now participate, instilling the paradoxical sense of being more and more monitored and yet less and less known and respected by the small number of remote tech powers.”
Giovanni Buttarelli, European data protection supervisor