How Will The GDPR Laws Affect Your YouTube Ad Campaigns? Expected Disruptions and Solutions12 min read


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is perhaps the biggest legal change aimed at protecting user data privacy in the history of the internet. Concerned about the proliferation and exploitation of individual tracking and data on the internet, this legislation brings broad and profound impacts to advertising and marketing efforts, and the industry is scrambling to come into compliance in time and avoid steep penalties.

What may come as a surprise is the fact that GDPR is enforceable based on citizenship, not the country of residence. As a result, companies will probably consider enforcing GDPR compliance across all marketing activities globally (not just those that target countries in Europe).

“Compliance with the GDPR means companies essentially have to switch from an “opt-out” approach to an “opt-in” approach.”   ~

These new rules undoubtedly have a massive impact on the way Facebook, Alphabet (Google,) and Apple will conduct business in the EU, But what will this mean for the average marketer using these platforms to drive paid marketing efforts?

Facebook is getting ahead of the problem with plans to roll out an educational campaign that will teach users how to protect their data. They also have a Privacy Center for users to control their settings proactively and they’ve published “privacy principles,” which outlines their philosophy around data protection. Google set up a page specific to GDPR information here. However, the implications for marketers using these platforms to advertise are far reaching and it’s possible we might be in for a turbulent transition. AdWords specifically relies on multiple strands of user tracking, with varying levels of transparency and consent. Let’s dig in.

What does this new law mean for AdWords Targeting?

Today, Google collects data on users based on devices, including your searches, location, IP, websites and apps used, videos and ads you watch, and personal info that you disclose as you are signing up for a Gmail account or when you are customizing your “interest profile”. Today, you can’t see the assumptions Google has assigned regarding your interests, however, you can customize interests by adding or removing specific interests.

GDPR Advertising - Google's advertising preference setting

Google, like all of the other big players, will likely be reprocessing all it’s EU patrons’ data. It will also need to add layers of opt-in gates to comply with the new law. We also anticipate upfront transparency around how private data is used, once it is collected.

Programmatic advertising through Google’s DSP will be hit with massive changes as well because users will have to opt-in with multiple companies: Google + the DMP companies that collect data on users for programmatic ad targeting. Read more about that here.

What does this new law mean for YouTube advertisers?

With users actively citing they’ll exercise their right to opt out of allowing companies to track their private info, audience targeting loses some of its unique power. In a poll of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by SAS, a third of respondents (33%) cited that after May 25, they will exercise their right to ask companies to stop using their data for marketing purposes.

We will soon see the full impact of these new regulations, but we expect YouTube audience targeting volumes in the EU to see a dramatic drop, and targeting broadly based on “audience interests” will be less effective and “remarketing/retargeting” will be affected as well.

According to PageFair, the global authority on adblocking, the technologies that will be affected include:

  • Certain targeting features of AdWords such as “remarketing”,[9] “affinity audiences”,[10] “custom affinity audiences”,[11] “in-market audiences”,[12] “similar audiences”,[13] “demographic targeting”,[14] “Floodlight” cross-device tracking.[15]
  • “Customer Match”, which targets users and similar users based on personal data contributed by an advertiser.[16] A prospect would have had to give their consent to the advertiser for this to occur.
  • “Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA)”, retargeting from site visitors by using Google Analytics, is likely to be prevented by the ePR.[20]

Fortunately for Brite Content customers, Placement targeting (contextual search-based targeting) can be really simple for YouTube advertisers. Brite’s customers are focused exclusively on targeting that uses no private user data. By targeting a user based on the content of the video they watch, we can infer interest and intent without ever tracking anything about the individual user.

For this, Brite attracts some of the top user acquisition brands in the world. Among those is Babbel, which is top 10 in the “learning & education” app category.

“Babbel has selected Brite Content based on their approach with ‘Placement Targeting,’ also known as Content Targeting, to convert new customers from YouTube. It is based on content relevancy, instead of audience signals. Brite Content’s approach ensures that our YouTube marketing budget is spent on viewers watching videos that we know are relevant to Babbel’s app. Brite Content’s Placement Targeting technology enables us to get our ad in front of more qualified users. This naturally lowers our cost per acquisition, which is the most important Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for us.”

~ Pedro Wernek, SEM Manager, Babbel

If you are marketing on YouTube, and want to seamlessly transition to this new world of privacy, you can begin your 14-day free trial of our content targeting software.

Or if you already have a slew of questions, schedule a time to meet below. The GDPR law goes into effect in May 2018 – get ahead of the upcoming changes today. 

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