Red book with the title 'GDPR: New Rules'

In an attempt to inject some lightheartedness into GDPR (no easy feat!) we thought we’d have a go at addressing some of the regulation’s key changes…by reappropriating Dua Lipa’s recent hit,  ‘New Rules’.

I’m sure Ms. Lipa never envisioned her song being used in such fashion, and might well be appalled… Anyway, let’s delve into these new rules in a bit more detail.

 

One – Do pick up the phone, but if they’re on TPS then leave them alone

 

It clearly states in guidance from the ICO that individuals are still able to be contacted via telephone using Legitimate Interest as a legal basis. Consent is not strictly needed. However, an LIA must be carried out which concludes that you have a legitimate interest in contacting said individual, and that they equally would have an interest in hearing from you. Likewise, it goes without saying – if they’re registered on TPS then put that phone down.

 

Two – Don’t let bad data in, you must do your due diligence

 

Despite concerns over the use of 3rd party data post-GDPR, as long as the data has been collected correctly, in a transparent manner – and is GDPR ready – then there is absolutely no reason why 3rd party data cannot (and should not) be used. This is precisely why due-diligence is imperative. All 3rd party data should be linked to the most recent privacy policy or consent statement, as well as the most recent engagement date – this should also be broken down by channel. (REaD Group’s Active database consequently ticks all of these boxes!)

 

Three – You must clean and amend, or you’re only gonna wake up with a fine in the morning

 

Article 5(1)d is explicit about this – data must be kept up to date and accurate or be deleted. Simple as. Besides the obvious threat of a substantial fine from the ICO, perhaps more troubling for many businesses should be the potential for brand damage. Consumer expectations around data accuracy have never been higher.

Recent research conducted by REaD Group found that more than 70% of consumers expect their data to be accurate [Source: Accuracy and Relevance – GDPR Impact Series 2018]

Continuing to market to deceased individuals and goneaways could have huge repercussions and lead to losing loyal customers. Keeping data up to date and accurate couldn’t be simpler and can be done real-time nowadays with Data as a Service (DaaS) solutions. So clean your data!

 

Don’t contact them – without a legal basis for pro-cessing

 

Whichever legal basis you choose for processing, once you have chosen it you must use it thereafter – there’s no going back. With that in mind, you might want to reconsider the misguided notion that consent is the be-all and end-all. It is often not the best basis to use. Direct Mail can be used under LI and is set to make a huge come-back – Amazon in the US (a famously online-only retailer) recently announced their intention to distribute a printed toy catalogue at Christmas time!

Respondents to MarketReach research confirmed that mail is more believable (87%), makes them feel more valued (70%) and creates a better impression of a company (70%).

While I await correspondence from Dua Lipa insisting that I never again use her songs to highlight changes in data protection law, be sure to follow the new rules – And if you don’t abide, the ICO might skin your hide! (Well, not really, but you get the idea!).

 

silhouette of a bicycle on a road with the Eiffel Tower in the background

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

The Tour de France is over and yet again we have a British winner, that’s 6 times in the last 7 races.  It is almost becoming de rigeur!  More correctly, there have been 6 Team Sky winners in the last 7 years.  Let’s leave aside for now any suggestion of cheating (my own opinion based on not very much is that they don’t break the rules but bend them as far as they can) and praise this for the amazing achievement that it is.

Since they formed, Team Sky have had a plan, they have run the team with clear objectives and they have succeeded in what they set out to do.  Mightily impressive.

And the win on this year’s Tour comes on the back of Chris Froome’s amazing three grand tours in a row.  I’m not a cyclist but I can appreciate how the planning and effort that Team Sky go into creates the possibility of victory.  To understand this more, listen to the excellent Podcast that the BBC made about how Chris Froome effectively won the Giro d’Italia on stage 19, it shows the meticulous planning that goes into creating the victory:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/44372328

I used to work with a guy who came at the same inspiration from another sport, rowing, and a presentation he had seen from Ben Hunt-Davis:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNOQAuMGxBQ)

The concept here is very similar to Team Sky, focussing on what makes for success and getting rid of anything that doesn’t.  It is an easy concept to get but a very hard philosophy to follow.

Summarising these two great sporting examples, I see three things that stand out that can be applied to businesses:

Sweating the small stuff

Key to success for the rowers and Team Sky are the small incremental changes that add up to moving them forward. Every day sees them looking for something that will make a very small but relevant difference.  These principles were also applied to the British Olympic Cycling team where things like heating the tyres, then the riders thighs were seen as minor changes to begin with but are now used by all the teams.  So it is in business, looking at the small stuff can be what makes a difference in winning new work or delivering a successful project.

The big idea

As with Team Sky on stage 19 of the Giro, sometimes it takes a big idea to make a change. Froome was losing the race and needed something to change that.  They sat down, developed a plan, a big plan, and executed it to perfection.  But part of that was actually coming up with the big idea in the first place.  I can imagine no ideas were off the table, that anything would be considered.  Pure blue sky thinking.  How often do we really sit down in our business and look at what the next big idea should be?  And even if we do, how many times does it fall away because we don’t agree, focus and deliver on it?

Great teamwork

With both the rowing team of 2000 and Team Sky one other key factor is true, that the team is more important than the individual. In the cycling world, the domestiques, the people that provide the support; drag the main rider through to the end of tough stages; deliver the food and drinks needed to get to the finishing line; are as important as the number one rider.  Geraint Thomas served his time as a domestique before he was allowed to win the Tour.  These riders know their role, they stick to it and the team wins as a result.  I don’t think I need to explain the analogy in business!

Many of us love sport, we sit and admire as our heroes deliver success.  Or, if you are a Scotland fan, occasionally beat a team 3 places above us in the world rankings.  However, there are also many lessons to be gained from studying what makes sports stars great at what they do; dedication, drive, grit, hard work and talent amongst many more.  Extending this into what we do every day isn’t always easy – not many of us will be as great at our jobs as Roger Federer – but we can hopefully achieve more by being inspired by them.

gdpr words

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

At our recent GDPR briefing, a mere 3 days before May 25th, we asked those attending to sum up their final thoughts and feelings on the new regulation in 1 to 4 words. Needless to say, we received quite a range of responses! Many were whole-heartedly optimistic – ‘About Time Too!’, ‘An Opportunity’ while another begrudgingly conceded that it was a ‘necessary evil’. And one (we certainly hope they were being tongue in cheek!) simply labelled it ‘a pain in the a**e!’ – GDPR has been labelled as the 4 letter word.

‘Necessary’ seems like a very appropriate word. GDPR’s predecessor (the Data Protection Act) was introduced in 1988 – long before much of the technology involved in today’s marketing practices had been developed and before the amount of contactable data available exploded! Analogue legislation for a digital world.

There is no doubt that the last two years plus spent preparing for GDPR have been a challenging period for many. Particularly smaller companies who have more limited resources to ensure that they meet all of the new regulation’s requirements (of which there are quite a few).

Don’t give up!

Those who find themselves still just short of readiness, now that we are on the other side of the deadline, should not fall into utter despair just yet. To quote some sage advice from Hannah Crowther of renowned law firm, Bristows LLP – as long as you can clearly evidence that you are working towards adhering to the new Regulation (but haven’t quite crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’), it is extremely unlikely that the ICO will come a-knocking. Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has been quite clear that they would rather use the carrot than the stick!

However, those who consider themselves to be ‘GDPR ready’ should not be taking their foot off the pedal – far from it! As a regulation, GDPR demands ongoing compliance which is no small task. Undoubtedly, once you have the proper systems and procedures in place and they have been adopted into company culture, this task should only become easier.

A ‘New Challenge’

While some are concerned that GDPR signals an end to marketing practice as we know it, this is hardly a bad thing! ‘Inbox bombing’ has become widespread practice over the last few years, to the extent that consumers have definitely become desensitised to email offers.

Marketing will not cease to exist now that GDPR is law, it will simply require some refinement and a change in approach – as well as a renewed focus on the consumer. There will certainly be a substantial dip in terms of contactable individuals initially, as companies determine which legal bases they intend to process data under.

Nevertheless, by using data intelligently to understand your customer base and utilising techniques such as segmentation and modelling, marketers will be able to offer consumers more personalised communications that they are actually interested in receiving. A ‘new challenge’ as one attendee aptly described it.

What is more, GDPR champions openness and transparency – consumers that are being contacted should now actually EXPECT to receive these communications.

Consent!

Another word to crop up was simply the word ‘consent’. Truth be told this has been the main concern for the majority of marketers since GDPR was first incepted – and the media furore has hardly helped matters. However, in the FIRST statement of the ICO’s recent consent guidance it clearly says:

The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis.”

Don’t forget that there are five other legal bases for processing data, and in many instances consent may not be the right one to use. When it comes to honing your marketing strategy under the new legislation, it seems as though Legitimate Interest is in many cases the most obvious and appropriate for contacting prospective customers.

Mail has been found to be a much more trustworthy and tangible form of communication for consumers – and much more likely to yield a positive response. Furthermore it is a channel that has a much greater scope for creativity, as opposed to email which can be limiting, presenting an opportunity to create some truly engaging campaigns.

While our word collection was a fun exercise aimed at providing some levity before the big deadline, it was reassuring to see that so many people seem to appreciate GDPR as an opportunity and a change for the better. Regardless of people’s opinions towards GDPR, the fact remains that it is now LAW – no ifs, ands or buts!

See the full list of people’s GDPR words in the video below:

 

loyalty scheme

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

It’s been a turbulent few months for the UK retail sector – Debenhams and House of Fraser both recently announced multi-million pound losses. On the other hand, Tesco revealed a rise in their annual profits to £1.3bn and Sainsbury’s and Asda announced a ground-breaking merger to make a super-supermarket.

The level of competition between retailers is reaching fever-pitch. Amazon’s seemingly never ending reach, the growth of online brands such as ASOS and boohoo, and the general rise of the discount retailer have disrupted a sector that has been slow to respond. It is therefore vital for retailers to demonstrate their value to consumers and develop robust strategies to capture and retain customer attention and loyalty. A strategy that has proven highly effective in both the past and the present? Loyalty schemes.

Is the loyalty scheme on its way out?

While some have criticised loyalty schemes in recent years, they remain a powerful way of connecting and engaging with customers. In our recent Retail Trend Report we found that there is an intrinsic link between how long a loyalty scheme has been running and the level of customer loyalty. The research found that Tesco lead the way in supermarket retailers when it came to customer loyalty – the Tesco Clubcard was the first scheme to be launched (in 1995). Consequently, retailers with less mature loyalty schemes have lower levels of trust – Morrisons was ranked 10th for customer loyalty and only launched its scheme in 2014.

Some critics have insisted that the loyalty scheme is dying out, however, Tesco’s announcement earlier this year that they were going to downgrade their Clubcard programme was met with widespread backlash from customers. The demand is still there it would seem. Loyalty schemes offer a tangible value and benefits to the consumer, and many budget and plan accordingly to make the most of them. They may not necessarily attract new customers but certainly encourage more frequent purchases and customer retention. Loyalty schemes have become expected as part of the offering by consumers – gaining points rather than just lower prices.

Changing consumer landscapes

It has gotten to the stage where many consumers are experiencing ‘’offer fatigue’’; being bombarded with endless 2-for-1-deals, flash sales and coupons to the point where they become desensitised to all of it. Comparable prices are no longer the differentiator, consumers expect retailers to offer them deals that are suited to their individual shopping habits.

With discounting so rife, consumers are no longer prepared to buy full price products unless they absolutely have to, which has meant that supermarkets like Co-op have suffered for a number of years now.  In order to break the cycle, retailers must renew their focus on their customer loyalty propositions to make it worth customers investing their time and money in selecting their chosen retailer’s products. But how exactly?

The Digital Shift

Facilitating an easier process for customers to access their rewards is one way of tackling this challenge. Customers are increasingly using contactless technology and phones to make payments, and the prospect of carrying a wallet bulging with loyalty cards is becoming an increasingly unattractive one. It is high time that retailers shift their loyalty card schemes to digital platforms.

Tesco recently set an example by launching a contactless version of their Clubcard last year, followed by a Tesco Clubcard app. Customers who are presented with wads of paper coupons after swiping a loyalty card are, more often than not, unlikely to retain these for a future purchase.

Personalisation is key

Saving money is no longer the only priority for customers – they have come to recognise the value of personalisation and appreciate receiving deals that have been intelligently tailored to their shopping habits. Retailers therefore need to make sure that they are segmenting their customer data and analysing it to ensure that they are building and engendering trust and anticipating customers’ needs.

Building customer trust is a gradual process and not an overnight fix; this makes loyalty schemes more significant than ever before. Retailers must ensure that they are clearly explaining the benefits of a data-value exchange to their customers and remaining as transparent and open as possible.

Brands must demonstrate through these retail loyalty schemes that customers that consent to share their data stand to be rewarded for their loyalty and custom. And for those brands with long standing schemes already in place – now is not the time to abandon them! They’re a key means of understanding customer habits and maintaining valuable patrons.

The recent implementation of GDPR has provided a welcome impetus for brands to take this initiative. All things considered, by introducing loyalty schemes and using segmentation to enrich customer understanding, brands should soon enjoy better communication with an increasing number of data-savvy consumers.

REaD Group staff completing the ten peaks challenge for MS Society

There was laughter, there were tears, some unexpected scrambling, a few blisters, a bit of chafing, sun burn and A LOT of sweat – but we all did it!

The sun was just rising over the picturesque Lake District hills when 29 intrepid REaD Group staff (and one trusty canine companion in Bella the dog!) set off on our 10 Peaks Challenge to raise much needed funds for MS Society.

The Challenge: Conquer 10 peaks in less than 10 hours

The Route: a 15ish (our various distance measuring devices couldn’t quite agree) mile route taking in some of the highest peaks and most spectacular views in the Lake District, including the mighty Scafell Pike

The Team: 29 REaD Group staff (30 if you count Bella the dog!)

There were highs….

Reaching the top of peak 10 in 6 hours – we totally rock!

The views – simply breath-taking!

The joy of cooling our burning feet (and in some cases whole bodies!) in The Stickle Tarn

Almost losing Adam T in a steaming bog (the muddy kind) – or should that be a low!?!

The bliss of the first sip of a cold pint/cup of tea at the official finish – the very welcome sight that is Wainrights’ Inn

Tucking into Chicken/Veg Tikka Masala and Lemon Meringue Pie (or 3 if you’re Tickers…) at the youth hostel

The sense of camaraderie and achievement – there’s really nothing like it!

And the lows?

Well none really – apart from THE SWEAT! With sunshine AND humidity, we were sweaty in places we didn’t know we had – ‘nough said!   And being chased by an enormous thunder storm (which a least had the decency to wait till we had got to the pub).

Huge thanks must to our fantastic guides Matt, James, James and (yes) James from Lakeland Mountain Guides [https://www.lakelandmountainguides.co.uk] who made us laugh and kept us safe and also the lovely staff at YHA Langdale [https://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/yha-langdale]

A massive effort and achievement from everyone, and we are a few whiskers away from reaching our £10k fundraising target so any donations would be so much appreciated.  Come on people!

Our JustGiving page will be live until 30th June:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/readgroup10in10

REaD Group Chairman , Mark Roy, speaking at a GDPR event May 2018

Insightful, practical, really informative and enjoyable (yes an enjoyable GDPR event!) are just a few of the positive adjectives used to describe the REaD Group GDPR breakfast briefing. With only 3 days to go until ‘G-day’ the event was very timely – and very well attended – with a room packed full of experienced and informed marketers, Agency side Account Managers and data professionals.

There is more to GDPR than Consent!

To set the scene, REaD Group CEO, Jon Cano-Lopez, kicked off proceedings by referencing the latest consent guidance from the ICO (published only a few days before the event).  The first statement in the guidance reinforces that consent is often not the most appropriate legal basis for processing data under GDPR:

ICO guidance: “The GDPR sets a high standard for consent. But you often won’t need consent. If consent is difficult, look for a different lawful basis.”

So, although the GDPR presents some new hoops for marketers, data managers and compliance teams to jump through – there is more to GDPR than consent – and life will go on beyond 25th May!

The sky won’t fall in on 25th May!

Hannah Crowther, Associate at renowned law firm Bristows LLP, delivered an engaging and no-nonsense presentation packed with salient advice (she even got some laughs!).  Lamenting the barrage of opt-in requests we are all experiencing, she advised caution when deciding whether to re-permission your data – in many cases it is not necessary – particularly for existing customers, members or subscribers.

Her top tips for staying on the right side of the GDPR?

  • If you are embarrassed to say what you are doing with personal data you shouldn’t be doing it!
  • Avoid surprising people – use the Legitimate Interest balancing tests to determine what an individual would reasonably expect to receive
  • Give individuals control over their data and what happens to it, for example, including a clear means to update their preferences or opt out- and document it

Her informed legal view: If you have carried out your checks and balances – by using Legitimate Interest Assessments in a serious and thoughtful manner – and you can evidence your process, you are unlikely to be in ICO fine territory.

What about the right to erasure? This is another area of GDPR receiving a lot of coverage but also greatly misunderstood.  In fact, in many instances requests can be legitimately challenged by an organisation – using the outcome of a balancing test and where there is an overriding legal basis for continuing to hold and process the requester’s personal data (she used the examples of current employees or customers who need to be invoiced).

It’s a journey not a destination!

A pre-recorded interview with experienced CDO at Age UK, Michelle de Souza, gave us insight and sound advice – based on her hands on experience of preparing for GDPR.  Their two year GDPR journey has taken them from relative disinterest internally to embracing the new principles based regulation.  Michelle likened the run up to the enforcement of GDPR to preparing for your driving test, hoping you will pass – and that you don’t get pulled over!

“If you are doing something that doesn’t feel right then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.” Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner

Mark Roy – Founder and Chairman of REaD Group – spoke passionately about GDPR being a force for good.  Surely it is better for businesses to be more transparent and honest about what they are doing with personal data so consumers can be more informed and more engaged?  Talking about Recital 47 that states explicitly that the processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest.

By Direct Marketing the GDPR refers to Direct Mail (not email, telephone or online – which are still covered by PECR).  Mark expounded the virtues of Direct Mail as an effective, more trusted, less invasive and creative channel to market.  Research confirms that consumers trust direct mail more than email and that it makes them feel more valued.

In Mark’s view, once the GDPR dust has settled, the real game changer will be the ePrivacy Regulation (ePR) which is expected to replace PECR in 2020 and will shake up all digital channels.

Closing on an optimistic note, he reiterated that businesses that embrace GDPR will thrive beyond May 25th – and the future for data driven marketing is bright!

tropical beach scene with palm trees and a wooden sign that reads 'GDPR data nirvana'

By Jon Cano-Lopez, CEO at REaD Group

We are now only days away from the big day – the General Data Protection Regulation – widely considered to be the most drastic change to the data landscape of recent decades.

GDPR is, in many people’s opinion, long overdue. The previous legislation surrounding data protection, the Data Protection Act, was implemented in 1998, before many of today’s digital marketing channels existed – the marketing practices of today are almost unrecognisable to those of 20 years ago.

Like it or not, GDPR will force marketers to alter their practices (very much for the better) and will impact businesses in numerous ways – across every bit of personal data processing. One of the central reasons for its implementation is to give consumers back control of their data and promote transparency and honesty between marketers and their customers.

The data value exchange

Unquestionably, gaining permissioned data will become more challenging and this will directly impact on marketing communications. The real test for brands will be to convince consumers of the value exchange in providing their data. Consumers and brands have been benefiting from data sharing for years, to the point where people often take many of the benefits for granted, such as loyalty schemes and tailored offers.

By providing relevant and tailored communications, brands can demonstrate the value of data sharing and ensure that their customers are likely to welcome correspondence from them.

While many marketers, and indeed much of the media, have been concentrating on the issues around obtaining consent, it is important not to forget that Article 5 of the GDPR requires that data be kept up-to-date and accurate. Using first class data cleaning products, such as Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions which can clean data in real time, will ensure that companies are complying with this aspect of the regulation (and take a significant amount of hassle out of the task).

Data is becoming an increasingly valuable asset, and this value should not be underappreciated. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. Keeping data up-to-date in order to communicate better with your existing customers should therefore be a no-brainer.

Legitimate interest

Despite a desperate scramble by many companies to re-consent customers via email, it is important to remember that consent is NOT the only legal basis for processing data. There are six in total and they are all created equal. Marketers received some good news from the ICO earlier this year when it was announced that if you are using direct mail to market to consumers you can rely on ‘’legitimate interest’’:

“you won’t need consent for postal marketing… you can rely on legitimate interests for marketing activities if you can show how you use people’s data is proportionate, has a minimal privacy impact and an individual is unlikely to be surprised or object.’

However, an LIA (legitimate interest assessment, also known as a balancing test) should be conducted to determine whether ‘legitimate interests’ can be used as a form of lawful basis for the data you are contacting.

In light of this announcement, brands should explore the opportunities presented by direct mail and think about how to utilise the channel to secure maximum impact. Public perceptions around direct mail have changed over recent years after many experienced an endless deluge of largely irrelevant and unwanted email. A return to a golden age of DM should be welcome news to consumers and companies alike. Mail as a medium has been found to be far less intrusive, more tangible and trustworthy, as well as providing a greater scope for companies to be creative and encourage engagement.

The months ahead

The 25th May should not be thought of as a finish line, but the beginning of a journey. Achieving compliance is only the start – maintaining best practice and incorporating it into company culture will be the real test for companies. However, it is important to remember that the legislation will ultimately benefit both consumers and brands. There is no need to panic over the prospect of fewer names on the marketing database, as those who have chosen to share their data will be more receptive and open to communications; essentially more valuable to business. Forging these long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with customers who want to be contacted will pave the way for a successful future.

A burlesque dancer covers her body with pink feather fans and looks down.

Another important difference between the Data Protection Act and the GDPR is that two existing Privacy concepts will be entrenched in law in Article 25, namely ‘Privacy by Design’ and ‘Privacy by Default’.

These concepts are not new but will have enhanced prominence and importance with the enforcement of the GDPR, under Article 25.

Privacy by Design means businesses need to consider privacy at the initial design stages and throughout the development process of any new products, processes or services that involve processing personal data.

Privacy by Default means that when a system or service includes choices for the individual on how much personal data he/she shares with others, the default settings should be the most privacy friendly ones.

Sounds simple, right?  Well, maybe not…. It is far more than a tick-box compliance exercise that can be buried within audits and contracts…it requires full commitment to build data protection into company culture and all aspects of its operations.  Essentially, these Principles encapsulate an ethos that should permeate every organisation that controls or processes personal data.

So here are a few tips for applying these key principles (and soon to be legal obligations):

  1. Educate all staff so they understand the principles – and that the Privacy obligations and accountability sit with ALL staff not just IT or compliance teams
  2. Conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment – or PIA.  A PIA is an analysis of how personally identifiable information (PII) is collected, used, shared, and maintained within the organisation
  3. Best practice is to create a PIA template which can then be filled in for each new system or product/service.  The ICO have provided a PIA template here. 
  4. Implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure that only personal data necessary for each specific purpose are processed.  This applies to the amount of personal data collected, the extent of processing, period of storage and accessibility
  5. Data collection techniques – including cookies – should also be reviewed and revised to avoid excessive data collection. Ensure that automated deletion processes are in place to remove personal data after an appropriate (and set) period of time
  6. Remember this is a legal obligation – no longer a ‘good idea’ or a ‘nice to have’

One big benefit of applying Privacy by Design and Default, is that it will also make it easier to be transparent, which is absolutely key when it comes to earning the trust to collect the data in the first place – and also a fundamental principle of the GDPR.

So, time to embrace Privacy!

Read about how REaD Group have embraced information security and implemented Privacy by Default.

Mark Roy - Chairman and Founder of REaD Group

By Mark Roy, Founder and Chairman of REaD Group

The current chaos that seems to have overtaken the social media world these days is going to have far reaching consequences, not just social media but across the entire digital spectrum.

We have all been inundated with warnings about the imminent arrival of GDPR and many of us have spent much of the past few years preparing for that change.  But it is the Electronic Privacy Review (E-PR) that will have a devastating effect on businesses engaged in digital communications as the current social media furore has altered the focus of E-PR from PECR re-write to complete reinvention of digital communications regulations.

The back story to GDPR is that the European Union was extremely unhappy in the early teenies about American digital behemoths – the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Apple wantonly using European citizen data for their own gain.  They believed (rightly in my view) that European citizens should be able to exploit these services whilst having confidence that data would not end up disappearing to God knows where and used for God knows what!

To make matters worse for the Americans, in the time it has taken to get GDPR ratified in Europe both Safe Harbours and Privacy shield have been binned, although an allegedly ‘beefed-up’ version of Privacy Shield is now in play.  Somewhat unhelpfully, in a deeply Churchillian two fingered way, Mr Trump has also managed to abolish the Obama Privacy bill which apparently did not put ‘America First’!

However, the wider story is not about the new controls and transparency that GDPR will provide for European citizens, it isn’t even about the fines that will be issued if companies fail to adhere to this new higher standard, the real story is about what is going to happen next year when the E-Privacy review (E-PR) is published.

The digital marketing arena is currently governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communications regulations (PECR). Written in 2003 it has been subject to comparatively little reform over the last 15 years, amazing considering all that has changed in that time. The E-PR is fast approaching its closing stages and aims to resolve the significant legislative gap between the digital arena of 2003 and today’s much changed industry, as well as creating important synergies between E-PR and GDPR.

At its heart (surprise surprise!) a pretty draconian view of how commercial organisations are able (or unable) to exploit European citizen data. One other key thing to mention is that currently, sitting within the text, it states that all digital communications should be based on consent in line with GDPR, in other words open, transparent and unambiguous and requiring affirmative action.

So, it will not surprise you in the least when you hear that MEP’s, Euro legislators, rapporteur’s,  ministers et al have spent the last few months being savagely lobbied by who? You guessed it, the US behemoths who stand to lose billions as a result of these changes, yes – those same behemoths that sat firmly in the cross-hairs of the Euro legislature back in the early teenies!

So when a story erupts about an analytical business using “surreptitiously” acquired data to try and influence the outcome of an election you won’t need a degree in quantum physics to understand that any party involved in the creation of the E-PR will now be doing everything within their power to ensure that European citizen data is protected at all costs.

Whilst I have long said the GDPR right to erasure articles would signal an end to the wanton use of citizen data in the programmatic industry, it now seems that a relatively small analytical business abusing the trust of Facebook users (aided by a long-held commercially convenient laissez faire attitude from Facebook) has pretty much ensured that the E-PR will move to an opt-in model and that European digital marketing companies will have to find a new and more transparent way of acquiring customers.

MS Society Awards

By Scott Logie, MD, Insight at REaD Group

I played football on Thursday afternoon for the first time in around a year.  We played 3 games…and lost them all.  In addition, I stubbed my toe which was massive and bruised when I woke up.  I also seem to have tweaked some muscles in my groin.  All of which meant that I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when I hobbled through the rain to attend the MS Society Awards lunch on Friday.  By the time I left a little over 4 hours later not only had I realised the need to stop being quite so self-centred but I had learned a huge amount about people’s ability to be positive, see past adversity and support others.

Every year at REaD Group we choose a charity to support.  This year we are helping out and raising funds for MS Society after it was nominated by one of our staff who has a friend who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.  We have done some fundraising events already including a waxing evening (for some of our hairier gents) and are walking 10 peaks in the Lake District in 10 hours on the 1st of June.  I was also invited to judge the employer of the year award which was one of 15 given out at the awards.

Even before the awards, at the drinks beforehand and over lunch, the stories of how people live with MS and the support of those who help them out day to day was incredible.  As part of the judging we had already read a lot about the things that people in companies do to help their colleagues who have to live each day with MS, but to meet these people in the flesh and see the bond between them was amazing.  It was clear that for all of them, this wasn’t about helping staff but about a lasting friendship.

This might sound odd but one of the things I noticed, from my point of view as an outsider, was how often it was hard to distinguish who had MS and who didn’t.  At my table at lunch were three sets of people from companies and in each case one was an MS sufferer and the other wasn’t.  And in each case, until they stood up and needed support or assistance, it would have been impossible to say who had MS.  This clearly shows how unpredictable a disease it is, and how it can literally affect anyone at any time.

Scott Mills from Radio 1, whose mum has MS, presented the awards and described it as “an emotional rollercoaster” and boy was he spot on.  The awards were a mixture of individuals and groups who support MS sufferers and people with MS who are an inspiration for others.  The first group includes partners and employers who go above and beyond, those who are researching to help find a cure and people in the media who are raising the profile of the disease and its consequences.

However, the most lump in throat moments for me here were from the young people who either care for their parents with MS – including a 9 year old girl and two 16 year old girls who have to balance exams, being 16 and looking after their parent – or those raising funds.  This latter group included a 10 year old girl who organised a bake sale on her own and an 11 year old boy who swam nearly 1,500 lengths of his swimming pool.

And then there are those who not only live every day with MS but also take the time to raise funds, such as Noel Wilson who is aiming to drive his mobility scooter around every racing circuit in the UK, or who campaign or support through sharing their experiences.  Such as Hannah Smith who was diagnosed with relapsing MS at 24 and has set up a blog called An Ordinary Girl with MS where she writes openly about her experiences.  The ability of people to lift themselves above a debilitating illness, and not just live every day but inspire others is fantastic.

It feels like a drop in the ocean but I’m really proud that REaD Group are supporting the MS Society this year.  I hope you all feel the same and support us in whatever way you can.

You can donate to our 10 peaks challenge here