Blockchain, Advertising and GDPR?

As we are sure you are all aware, on the 25th of May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become effective after a two-year transition period. Most of the content we read around the new law evolves around compliancy, making sure you as a company know your processes, what data is stored where (and for how long), what to do with data leaks and establishing a Data Privacy Officer (DPO). Even though these are all important in the eyes of the lawmakers, what we seem to overlook is that the actual goal of the GDPR is to put the control over personal data in the hands of the consumer.

We are Faktor and our mission is to give consumers control over their data, while enabling publishers to thrive. We think it is safe to say that the internet will change. Dramatically even. Not just for companies that process or hold personal data (pretty much every online entity), but especially for the consumer. They have no idea what is coming. Nor have they explicitly asked for such change, most likely disrupting their user experience.

We come from the programmatic advertising world. We have targeted, tracked and analyzed ‘you’. Without us ever knowing it was you of course. Our industry is full of innovation and advertising is considered the commercial engine for content driven websites. And we would like to keep it that way.

We support and applaud initiatives like Digitru.st and the still to be formalized Identity Consortium, head up by Appnexus, Liveramp, Index Exchange and Mediamath. They have committed to solve a problem, that we as an industry have basically created ourselves. The endless syncing of user id’s, allowing advertising platforms to show campaigns or analyze the effect of them, leading to hundreds of cookies stored on your device from companies you have never heard off. And the worst part? A large part of those cookies is no longer to be recognized the day after. So, the process keeps repeating itself.

But… even though there is more attention on simplifying and streamlining processes and technology, there is still no dialogue with the consumer. They are (again) left out, not involved in who they are, what they like or dislike. They have become the product themselves and to an advertising platform they are just another device to extract an id from. Are we truly expecting consumers to give their explicit consent to a long list of companies that they don’t know the value off?

Consumers will basically obtain five rights under the GDPR with regards to their personal data (which includes IP and cookie data).

  1. Right to Access
  2. Right to Change
  3. Right to be Forgotten
  4. Right to Portability
  5. Right to Complain

Which begs the question: can there still be an internet where people are (pseudo-) anonymous? Of course, in some places and in some browsers. But these opportunities will get less and less over time. For a large part, the internet is not for free and we should all stop treating it this way. Publishers need new economic incentives and asking people to identify themselves when consuming their content is the least they need. Personal data (age/gender, preferences) can be a currency to pay for content, as advertising coupled with the right data equals more revenue. For brands, it means they can be more relevant. For consumers, it means they finally know the value exchange. They will be part of it.

The new internet is democratized, decentralized and distributed. Country borders are fading, especially with initiatives in Estonia like ‘E-residency’ (E-stonia, where you can basically become a citizen of the internet), almost a thousand cryptocurrencies (i.e. Bitcoin, Ether) representing one hundred billion in value, the ever-increasing e-commerce engine and the large amount of new devices coming online every day. Local governments and lawmakers on their own are no longer equipped to deal with this ever-changing digital world.

But the good people of the internet seem to have found their own solution: Blockchain. Trust is enabled and guaranteed by the community, there are Smart Contracts that self-execute when the proper variables are present, there is ‘money’ and the possibility to manage any commodity without interference from third parties. And the best part? No one owns the data. We can all use it, if and when we are allowed to.

We are Faktor, a Blockchain based Identity Management Platform, facilitating a fair value exchange between consumers, brands and publishers — trying to create a better internet for everyone. We offer consumers control and choice over their personal data, publishers the tools to operate sustainable business models and brands the ability to advertise more effectively.