Three GDPR & Data Takeaways From This Year’s Cannes Lions

By Chris Hogg, Managing Director EMEA, Lotame 
 
With this year’s Cannes Lions now in the books, what better time to reflect on some of the key themes of the festival? One of the biggest trends in the French Riviera last week was GDPR, which is now one-month young. Advertisers and marketers from all over the world were on-site to learn the different ways that GDPR might continue to affect them in coming months – and beyond.
 
Based on my conversations with partners and customers, here’s a look at three of the more interesting data and GDPR-related takeaways from this year’s festival.  
 
Data quality trumps scale.
 
At Cannes, marketers are telling us that they’re less concerned about data’s scale and are more focused on its quality and accuracy. Frankly, this isn’t surprising. The trajectory of the data industry has been shifting this way for several years. The difference today, however, is that this trend is more pronounced. And it has been driven by two developments. First, marketers are demanding more transparency and accountability from their media supply chain. And second, GDPR has changed the way advertisers think about the data they collect, as it has naturally shrunk data stockpiles. In this environment, brands want to buy high-quality audience profiles, with scale important but less of a differentiator than in previous years. This will be the new norm moving forward. And data sellers that have prioritized quality will be well-positioned to deliver.
 
Realizing the value of first-party data.
 
Despite many prognosticators predicting the end of second and third-party data as a result of GDPR, those datasets are still effective and necessary to execute successful campaigns at scale. And they’re not going anywhere. Advertisers we spoke to at Cannes are only investing more in their data resources, not less. There will be several changes, however. For one, advertisers will trim the fat, opting to rely only on the most trustworthy and quality-focused data sellers. Larger sellers that have the resources needed to stay GDPR compliant and install more meticulous vetting measures will win the day. What will also occur is that advertisers will invest more in first-party data resources. First-party data has always been the most critical dataset for brands. GDPR has made it clear to them that they need to put more budget and infrastructure behind that collection. DMPs that can help activate first-party data are major beneficiaries here.
 
Data is shifting to a service model.
 
Cannes has confirmed to me what I’ve thought for years – that data will become less of a commodity business and more of a service one. Data needs among advertisers and brands are only increasing. And regulations are only becoming more onerous and complicated. At Cannes, we heard this over and over again. As a result, data sellers need to become data consultants and advisors. They cannot just be a platform or the pipes. They need to be end-to-end mentors and educators, helping advertisers activate whatever data assets they have or want, from first-party, to second-party, to third-party. And that needs to be done while offering to work towards clearly-defined objectives. In the transparency, accuracy and GDPR era, this is key.
 
 
At this year’s Cannes, GDPR was on everyone’s mind. And these three effects, in particular – data quality over data scale, the rise of first-party data and the shift to a service model – shined through in the conversations I had. It will be interesting to see how they play out in the next several months.
 
The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.

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