What might happen to opt-in rates in a GDPR world

What might happen to opt-in rates in a GDPR world

Tom Weiss, Mon 21 January 2019

At the risk of quoting the 21st Secretary of Defense, one of the big "known unknowns" of GDPR is how it will impact opt-in rates. For many of the data use cases that define data-driven TV, this is a critical success factor: addressable advertising relies on matching viewer data to third-party data. To understand whether the people who watched Ray Donovan also visited a particular website, intend to buy a truck, or signed up for a test-drive of the latest Ford, we need to be able to share the consumers' data with third parties. Previously this might have been permitted under broad-ranging opt-ins, but under GDPR, each and every consumer must actively sign up to have their TV data used in this way.

We don’t yet have firm data or benchmarks on opt-in rates, but we can look at other research around consumer attitudes to personal data to understand some of the potential impacts, and to understand how to boost opt-in rates.

A Fastmap report last year estimated that 26% of consumers fundamentally distrust companies storing personally identifiable information (PII) data about them. This figure should come as a surprise to nobody given both the frequency of scandals concerning data breaches of PII data which had not been anonymized or pseudonymized.

The report divided all consumers into three groups:

Relaxed consumers, who are not concerned that they don't have control over their data, trust the companies who store their data and believe that the law effectively protects their rights to privacy.

Fundamentalists, who care passionately about their data and don't trust companies to look after it.

Pragmatists, who are defined as those that don't fit into either of the first two categories.

The report raises the fact that the proportion of consumers who say they will opt-in to their data being used for different purposes is not entirely as black and white as the definition of these buckets of users. 70% of relaxed consumers, 65% of data pragmatists and 35% of data fundamentalists, respectively, say they would consent to companies using their personal data for marketing.

An obvious conclusion to draw is that 70% is a low opt-in rate for consumers who apparently don’t much care about how marketers use their data and that 35% is pretty high for those that do. What this actually really shows is that consumers are much more discerning about which companies they will let use their data, and which they won't.

We think companies should consider GDPR as an opportunity to restore faith in consumers whose data they hold. This means building greater awareness of all the data assets they have, or where they store their PII data, and what strategies they have in place to protect the privacy of their customers.

Improving opt-in rates for TV data

What can companies do to improve their reputation when it comes to enhancing opt-in rates for GDPR? An excellent place to start is assessing all the data they have, including new datasets, and how they will use each field. How much of the data is really necessary to be collected and processed in this way? Especially when it comes to PII data, we strongly recommend a minimalist approach, expressed in the opt-in clause. And if you are going to take the time and effort to pseudonymize PII data, let your customers know that you are doing this. Many consumers won't care, but data fundamentalists may do.

Explain how the customer will benefit from ticking the marketing opt-in box. Most of us can get irritated at marketing and advertising which appears completely irrelevant. If a customer opts out of their data being used, it doesn't mean they won't be on the receiving end of such a campaign, merely that it won't be personalized. Companies letting your customers know what the benefits are of opting-in to a personalized campaign can only help in driving opt-in.

And maybe the best way to let customers know about the enormous efforts you are making to protect their data and your strategies for preventing data breaches is by changing the language you use when explaining opt-in, with improved language expression leading to a 50% increase in opt-in rates in some studies. Many companies are reluctant to spread the word about their efforts in this area, perhaps fearing that any mention of data security here will make their customers nervous and less likely to opt-in. We’d argue that explaining directly, or linking to an explanation outlining their efforts in guaranteeing the safety of PII data being held by them, is better than saying nothing. And we’ve seen this first hand with our partner Inscape – who have ably demonstrated that clear and unambiguous language at opt-in can boost rates for their Smart TV data services

In other words – give consumers the ability to be discerning about what they will or won’t let you do with their data.

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