Q&A with Justin Kennedy on GDPR from a Publisher’s Perspective


Adotas is pleased to present a Q&A with Justin Kennedy (pictured left), COO at Sonobi


Q: In a nutshell, what is coming when GDPR comes into effect next month and how will it impact the industry?

A: When GDPR is put into effect next on May 25, users will have the ability to provide or revoke consent to have their personal data be shared. This creates a problem for much of the industry as the backbone of digital media execution is programmatic, which relies on the ability to “identify” a user in various ways. Requiring a user to provide consent to “opt-in” to programmatic advertising will lead to a loss of efficacy, which can only lead to a contraction in growth.

Q: Have publishers’ efforts to deliver media stalled as a result of the limitations that GDPR could potentially place?

A: They haven’t stalled yet, but they could. This is because that up to this point, a solution hasn’t been presented that could connect consent to the digital media ecosystem as a whole.

There has been a lot of conversation around how to gain and manage consent from a user, but what the ecosystem as a whole hasn’t come together and answered is how that consented user will be properly identified on different media properties. Without cooperation/collaboration, what you end up with is that a consented user will be a “different” user on every website they visit.

Q: Does the lack of tech solution complicate GDPR for publishers?

A: It depends on what aspect of GDPR you’re trying to solve for. If a publisher only wishes to gain consent and not tie that consent into the larger digital media ecosystem, that’s a much smaller hurdle to get over. An independent, agnostic solution will be required to try and make programmatic media execution work again under GDPR.

Q: Are publishers waiting for indications on how enforcement will look? Come June, will there be a light switch that needs to be flicked to enact that change?

A: There’s definitely something that could be said around publishers waiting for the first shoe to drop. And there’s some apprehension around what enforcement would look like when it comes to the legislation. From the US standpoint, were not a good proxy.

Americans as a whole have a different view on digital privacy than Europeans do. But with GDPR, there’s potential that this could be a law that is much ado about nothing. Enforcement is still an unknown. How courts interpret the law is such a gray area.

One question that needs to be answered for companies is: Do you need to adhere to the strictest interpretation of the law or is making your best effort enough? This is definitely hindering some of the reactions – we just don’t have that example in how enforcement will ultimately turn out.

Q: While adhering to the legislation surrounding GDPR could save companies millions, are there inherent benefits to complying with this law?

A: I actually see GDPR as a potential boon to suppliers. What actually increases value is the idea of gaining consent from the user and being able to deliver media to them. This is something that introduces value to the programmatic ecosystem and can bring about differentiated demand.


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